Turkish series as an export hit – Erdogan’s TV program?

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Turkish series are very popular and flicker on the screens in many other countries. But critics accuse Erdogan’s government of conducting propaganda in this way.

The recipe for success for many typically Turkish series is anything but secret. They follow a classic plot: Good fights against evil – with a happy ending. The Turkish state broadcaster TRT sees the country way ahead in the export of series – only the productions from the USA are more popular according to the broadcaster.

The dramas from Turkey are particularly well received by the Arabic-speaking audience. According to TRT, “Dirilis: Ertugrul” (“Resurrection: Ertugrul”) was a complete success there. The series was broadcast on the state broadcaster. In the Balkans and Spain, too, the mostly classic and quite conservative love stories à la turka attract many people in front of the screen. This causes displeasure on many a diplomatic parquet. Egypt’s government, which is at odds with Turkey, warned against Turkish TV productions and complained that the country was trying to expand its influence in the region.

Ertugrul tells the story of the father of the founder of the Ottoman Empire. It is a heroic story in which Ertugrul appears as the savior of the Islamic world. In fact, the president often depicts the history of his country in connection with the Ottoman Empire – and thus justifies a claim to leadership in the region. He recommended the series to young people in order to learn more about the history of the country. “Don’t forget, we come from a fatherland that has grown from a size of 18,000 square kilometers to a size of 780,000 square kilometers”.

Romantic historical dramas are Erdogan’s “soft power”

Many experts and critics call this Erdogan’s “soft power”. State-funded historical dramas that take place during the Ottoman Empire build on populist narratives, says Feyza Akinerdem, media sociologist at Istanbul’s Bogazici University. This type of series prepared the cultural breeding ground for Erdogan’s political despotism in Turkey, wrote the Turkish journalist Can Dündar in a comment for Zeit-Online. The series romanticized the time more than they were historically correct, say other critical voices.

The content is primarily controlled by an authority. RTÜK, the regulatory authority for broadcasting founded in 1994, likes to pull the plug on channels that broadcast unpleasant programs. “The state wanted to regain its power over television. So RTÜK was founded, ”says Akinerdem. From the decisions of the committee it becomes clear that the RTÜK president is working hard to stop criticism of Erdogan’s AKP government. At least that’s what Ilhan Tasci, himself a member of RTÜK, says for the opposition party CHP.

RTÜK’s decisions are not just about political issues. The authority recently imposed a fine on a broadcaster on the grounds that extramarital relationships were shown positively there. Alcohol or revealing pictures are already pixelated by official orders.

The media landscape has been put on a strictly conservative course over the past 20 years

Sex, references to different sexual orientations or alcohol – these are all examples of content that would have led to certain channels being switched off for days, says sociologist Besim Can Zirh from the University of Odtü in Ankara. The conservative government has fundamentally restructured everything in terms of media over the past two decades. Akinerdem puts it this way: “Behind many decisions is the idea of ​​having to protect the ideal of a perfect Turkish family.” Much of what is seen on television is seen as harmful.

Streaming giants like Netflix cannot avoid this. A spokesman for the platform told the German Press Agency that RTÜK would not be presented with content in advance. But if the Council would contact you after the publication, you would have to react: “Because we work according to national law”.

Akinerdem also observed a change in the content of Turkish series. “Violence against women is a big issue in Turkey that has found a place in many productions in recent years,” says the sociologist and feminist. The reality of women has become a prominent topic. Many people felt empowered.

[Anne Pollmann]

Source: DIGITAL FERNSEHEN by www.digitalfernsehen.de.

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