Turkish soap operas are being watched in over 20 countries, creating revenues as well as supporting the soft power of Turkish diplomacy.
Turkish TV series, such as the hugely popular Magnificent Century and Forbidden Love, are breaking viewer records in the Middle Eastern and North African countries, bringing in much-needed foreign currency while raising Turkeys clout in the region through the promotion of the Turkish lifestyle.
Turkey earned more than $60 million only this year from exporting TV series. More than 100 Turkish TV series have been watched in over 20 countries this year.
We have begun to be broadcast in the Balkan countries this year, said Fırat Gülgen, chairman of Calinos Holding, which makes 80 percent of TV series exported from Turkey, as he spoke to the Anatolia news agency Dec. 10. Gülgen said TV series are exported to many Central and Eastern European countries including Serbia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Romania, Poland and Hungary. In the Far East, buyers include Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, Japan and Vietnam.
Gülgen said prices for an episode of a given series ranged between $500 and $ 15,000. A TV channel in Japan has also prepared a documentary about Turkish soap operas, he said, adding that the documentary focused mainly on the effects on tourism and export.
In a recent issue, Time magazine described the export of soap operas as the secret of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Series such as Aşk-ı Memnu (Forbidden Love) and Yaprak Dökümü (Falling Leaves) are among the most popular series.
Commenting on the links between Turkish soap operas and the rising Turkish influence abroad, Nilüfer Narlı, a sociologist at Bahçeşehir University, said Turkey has increased its soft power in the Middle East and Balkan countries.
As the circulation of soap operas in the international arena has increased, learning Turkish language and culture have become very important in the Arab and Balkan countries. This is what we call soft power within the context of the culture industry, Narlı said, speaking to the Hürriyet Daily News on .
Last year, the final episode of Turkeys rags-to-riches soap opera Noor clocked 85 million viewers from Syria to Morocco, according to the dailybeast.com website. These serials have a huge impact, said İzzet Pinto, the chief of Turkeys Global Agency, which distributes Magnificent Century and 1001 Nights, another Turkish blockbuster set in modern-day Istanbul.
In the Balkans, newborns are being named after 1001 Nights characters, Pinto said, adding that the secret to success is familiarity.
Neither the characters nor the subject matter, nor the featured locations are foreign [to viewers], said Kemal Uzun, the director of Noor. They do not feel like outsiders to what is taking place. We are close cultures, close geographies; we have close ties.
A full 78 percent of respondents in the Arab world and Iran report that they have watched Turkish soap operas. Indeed, these TV programs have taken the region by storm, with Turkish TV stars becoming pop idols, a report by Paul Salem, titled Turkeys image in the Arab World, said. These soap operas have the effect of creating attachment, understanding and affection for Turkish identity, culture, and values in the region, the report said. Like Egyptian TV and cinema creating a prominent cultural place for Egypt in previous decades, Turkish television has made similar inroads in Arab [and Iranian] popular culture, the report said, adding that this has been complemented by a wave of tourism to Turkey in which Arabs and Iranians from various classes and walks of life have visited Turkey, which has become the most popular tourist destination.
SERIES SOLD TO OTHER COUNTRIES
Adını Feriha Koydum (I named her Feriha) , Acı Hayat (Bitter life), Akasya Durağı (Akasya stop) , Aliye, Annem (My Mother), Arka Sokaklar (Streets), Arka Sıradakiler, Asi (Rebellious) , Asmalı Konak (Asmalı Mansion), Aşk ve Ceza (Love and Punishment), Aşk-ı Memnu (Forbidden Love) , Aşkım Aşkım (My Love) , Berivan, Büyük Yalan (Big Lies) , Canım Ailem (My Dear family) , Gece Gündüz (Day anf Nigth), Genco, Gümüş (Noor) , Ihlamurlar Altında (Under the lime trees), Kapalı Çarşı (Grand Bazaar), Kurtlar Vadisi (The valley of the Wolves).
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