Tag Archives: Turkey

5 Yorumsuz – 5 Without Comment – 2015-04-13

1 – Mixed messages on the Kurdish situation pre-election – The AK-Party’s shifting stance on the Kurdish situation became even more confusing this weekend after a clash between the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and the Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK) in the eastern province of Ağrı. Details on the reasons for the clash are unclear, as both sides have blamed the other, and the number of casualties involved is also in dispute, but at least two people (at least one of them a PKK soldier) have died and a number of Turkish soldiers were injured. President Erdoğan and PM Davutoğlu blamed the PKK and attempted to implicate the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) after the incident, but HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş said the operation was staged, and pointed out that it was HDP members who went to rescue the injured soldiers, sharing links to photo and video on social media to back this claim up. The TSK released a statement thanking the civilians who helped the soldiers today, to some degree supporting Demirtaş’s claim.

This situation puts a fragile peace process in question. For the past three years, the AK-Party had been making moves towards peace, negotiating with the PKK’s jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan and conceding to some aspects on language rights and regional autonomy desired by many Kurds in Turkey’s southeast region, often called Kurdistan. More recently, however, President Erdoğan, who is nominally unaffiliated with a party but still overtly acts as the head of the AK-Party, reversed his stance on the so-called “Kurdish opening” simultaneous with the celebration of Newroz, the spring holiday most closely identified with Kurds. This was interpreted by many as Erdoğan’s move to coax nationalist voters, known for their anti-Kurdish stance, in the run-up to the 2015 parliamentary elections. Numerous polls show the AK-Party losing ground and the HDP moving towards the 10% threshold necessary to enter parliament as a party, and this likely has Erdoğan very worried. Up until now, HDP members have been running as independent candidates since they were not likely to pass the 10% threshold, but this situation greatly decreases their representation in parliament while simultaneously increasing that of the AK-Party. So the political calculation in Turkey currently hinges on the fate of the HDP, and the AK-Party has every incentive to prevent their passing the threshold.

Given these circumstances, the timing of the Ağrı conflict is interesting, because it is likely to damage the HDP’s political image and improve that of the AK-Party. The TSK’s statement, however, might change this calculus.

Potentially linked to these events is the Istanbul Film Festival’s choice, under direct pressure from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism’s Cinema Directorate, to cancel the screening of a documentary filmed in the PKK camps. Bakur (North) was scheduled to be shown on 12 April but, hours before the screening, the IFF announced its cancellation. Numerous Turkish filmmakers involved in the festival held an impromptu meeting after this and decided to withdraw their films from the festival, calling into question whether key competitions will continue. Specifically, 7 out of 9 films in the national feature and 9 our of 13 films in the national documentary competitions signed a statement withdrawing their films.

2 – Media wars – Pre-election tensions are also playing out in mainstream media as pro-government media sources have made a number of moves to attack non-aligned media. Perhaps most notably, state run (and theoretically impartial) broadcaster TRT has refused to run commercials for the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), giving as rationale the fact that the commercials criticize the ruling government. At the same time, pro-AK-Party media outlets Yeni Şafak and ATV have both published claims against the Doğan Media Group, charging it with support of terrorism in line with similar statements by Erdoğan. Doğan has filed slander charges against Yeni Şafak in response. Yeni Şafak also filed a story claiming that Turkey’s second President, Ismet İnönü, was responsible for having Mustafal Kemal Atatürk killed with poison. These claims and their alleged documentation have been the source of ridicule in other media, and columnist Mustafa Akyol commented on why such claims would come out now.

3 – Social media bans and reactions – Reactions to last week’s government ban of YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook have begun to mount. Early in the week there was a threat to block Google as well, but this has not yet been executed, and the social media sites are now back online. These bans have not gone unanswered, as Today’s Zaman reports:

Two Turkish academics on Tuesday appealed a court order that allowed authorities to block access to Twitter and YouTube for several hours this week, a crackdown they say reflects Ankara’s growing authoritarianism.

Meanwhile, Hürriyet Daily News reports on international critique of the ban:

Bans on social media networks are “not appropriate” according to basic democratic standards, said European Parliament President Martin Schulz, who held meetings with a number of senior officials in Turkey, adding that he expected “meaningful answers” from Ankara on the issue.

Despite such reactions, threats against social media may actually be on the rise, as Today’s Zaman reports:

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has a tendency to put everything he sees as a threat against his authority in the country’s “National Security Strategy Concept Paper” (MGSB) — often referred to as the “Red Book” — may soon be adding social media platforms, according to a story in the Cumhuriyet daily on Thursday.

4 – Censorship, trials, and lawsuits – The weekly round-up of lawsuits and trials for those deemed to have insulted the AK-Party continues, as Hürriyet Daily News reports,

A local court in Ankara has ordered main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu to pay 10,000 Turkish Liras in compensation to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for “insulting” him.

Erdoğan was not alone in his actions this week, as Today’s Zaman reports,

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has filed a new legal complaint against Today’s Zaman Editor-in-Chief Bülent Keneş over a blog post, saying the piece, an English version of which was published as a Today’s Zaman column, insulted him.

Some of the charges are more serious than insults against individuals, as Today’s Zaman reports,

Turkish prosecutors seek up to four and a half years in prison for two columnists, Ceyda Karan and Hikmet Çetinkaya, who write for the Turkish Cumhuriyet daily, over featuring a front cover of Charlie Hebdo magazine which depicted Prophet Muhammad in their pieces.

5 – AK-Party’s Neo-Ottoman overtures – Finally, the AK-Party continues to employ Ottoman pageantry in political appearances. As Hürriyet Daily News notes, this week’s ceremonies involved both PM Davutoğlu,

Continuing the new trend of cosplay started at Turkey’s new presidential palace where President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan resides, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan were welcomed by policemen dressed in Ottoman-era costumes on April 10 in Ankara.

and President Erdoğan,

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was welcomed during a ceremony on April 10 with the “New Turkey Anthem” performed by an Ottoman military band, which praised him as “Our Leader.”

Though quite visible, such overtures are not necessarily a way to success with the public, as the same paper noted in covering the fate of a number of “candidates for candidacy” who had vied for position on the AK-Party candidate list, which was decided this week:

Several candidates had launched Ottoman-themed campaigns to be nominated for the AKP. However, none of the “Ottomans” were able to break the glass ceiling of modern politics when the ruling party announced its candidates for the June 7 general elections on April 7.

Advertisements

Concerts of the Cinematic World – an interview with Azize Tan

The Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) Istanbul Film Festival (IFF), Turkey’s biggest both in terms of number of films shown and number of viewers reached, is back for its 34th round from the 4th to the 19th of April, featuring some 204 films by 222 directors from 62 countries. With over 20 categories ranging from horror to children’s films to cinema of the Balkans, as well as numerous competitions and awards, including best domestic feature and documentary, international feature, and best film on the theme of human rights, the festival has something for everyone and, according to director Azize Tan, that’s precisely the goal. I had a chance to speak with her last fall, during the lead up to IFF’s sister festival, Film Ekimi (Film October – FE), in a discussion ranging from the history of the festivals and their evolving role to the challenges facing the film industry in Turkey.

IFFLOGOJC – Can you tell me a bit about the history of the two festivals, how they came about, and what distinct roles they have?

AT – Well, IKSV (Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts) was founded in 1973 by businessmen before there was even a Ministry of Culture. They were organizing a big festival in the summer, quite similar to the one in Edinburgh now, featuring mostly classical music concerts, as well as some theater and dance. In 1982, after the military coup, they decided to screen films at that festival too. It started with just six films, but there was a great interest because cinema was practically dead in Turkey at that time. The cinematheques had been shut down with the coup in 1980 and almost no films were being produced or released, so that was the only place where people could go and see what was happening in world film.

The demand was so great that they decided to make it a separate festival. They pushed it to March, and they gave it the name FilmDays. It was like that for almost 10 years, and then it shifted to become International Istanbul Film Festival, as they added an international and national competition. On the 30th anniversary, we decided to drop the title International, since everybody knew the festival was international, so now it’s only IFF.

If IFF is a festival for the film world, FE is a festival just for the audience.

FilmEkimi started 13 years ago and, just as IFF marks the coming of spring, FE announces arrival of autumn. In fact, this year we did our press conference on the 23rd of September, which is the first day of autumn, and there was a storm and the weather changed in a single day. FE is similar to the gala screenings of the big films at IFF. It’s kind of a “best of” fest, and it’s the right season to do an event like that because summer is quite slow for film in Turkey. October is the time when people start to go back to cinema.

If IFF is a festival for the film world, FE is a festival just for the audience. We don’t have any guests, competitions, or industry events. Take a look at the program and if you’re interested in independent or auteur cinema, you’ll find that you can catch up with most of the films that you want to see within the season. FE is organized to get films to viewers while they’re still fresh. If we start the cinema season with Sundance in January and Berlin in February, we get many of those films in IFF. But with films that come to Cannes (May), Venice (September), and Toronto (September), it would be a long time to wait for April to see those films, and many will have been distributed digitally or on pay TV by that point.

FE also allows us to follow the films and the directors we’re interested in. So if there’s a director that we’re following throughout his career at IFF, and there’s a new film that can’t wait for April, we include it in FE. That’s how it works. For us it’s a kind of relief, because we don’t lose those films, and it seems to be working very well. In fact, we started our sales on Saturday the 27th after two days advance sales for our loyal members, and by the end of the second day, which is the fourth day in total of sales, we had sold 75% of the tickets. We even had to open 15 additional screenings and extend the festival by a day on either side. We expect an audience of 50,000 people in Istanbul alone.

JC – Do you show any Turkish films at FE?

AT – Not in the Istanbul program. We do a big showcase of Turkish cinema at IFF, including a number of competitions, and even if a Turkish film has already been released we prefer to leave it until April in order to showcase it for our foreign guests. But FE also has a traveling selection, which varies from city to city, and we do show Turkish films in each edition. For example, the 2014 National Competition Golden Tulip winner I’m Not Him is going to be shown at the traveling festival in Urfa, Diyarbakir, and Trabzon, because the film won’t be released in those cities, but we won’t show it in Istanbul, Ankara, or Izmir because they’ve all scheduled it for release.

JC – So it sounds like you’re very careful on the matter of film distribution. Could you say more about the role of festivals as they relate to that?

… film festivals are becoming an alternative distribution channel for film

AT – When we started to take the festival on tour it was a collaboration between Sarajevo Film Festival, Sofia Film Festival, Transylvania Film Festival, and ourselves, and we still continue this collaboration. We generally go to cities where there’s a big university and a young audience and our goal is to promote these films. We hold screenings in real movie theaters, not alternative venues, and we project digital, with good subtitles, so the quality is quite high. The project has been very successful and our audience has been increasing steadily each year. We have a very loyal audience, and it’s kind of proved that film festivals are becoming an alternative distribution channel for film. On the other hand, this highlights a problem with the current distribution system as well, because during the normal public releases this audience kind of gets lost.

JC – That’s an interesting point about alternative distribution models. Do you coordinate with Başka Sinema (Another Cinema – a new distribution model in Turkey for independent and arthouse cinema)?

AT – Yes, we coordinate with them on a number of fronts. We’re all from a generation who grew up with IFF, and it had a big impact on all of our lives. What they are creating is quite parallel to the legacy of IFF in many senses—their special sections and theme nights, for example. In the case of FE, nearly 90% of the films there have a Turkish distributor, and in many cases that is Başka Sinema. In order to defend and sustain independent cinema, we have to collaborate with other parties, otherwise we wouldn’t stand a chance.

The Karaca Cinema in Izmir is a good example. It’s in the city center and the owner decided to shut it down. But FE had been holding the festival there for the last four years and we had seen the potential of bringing quality films to that place—in fact, there was a huge demand from Izmir. So we suggested that they collaborate with Başka Sinema and now they’ve got an agreement for the small screen there. We still use the cinema for the festival and now we also promote Başka Sinema with commercials throughout the festival. So far it’s a collaboration that’s helping a cinema to survive.

AZIZE TANJC – This highlights another aspect of the role of festivals—their effects on the local economy.

AT – Yes, when you have a successful festival you can have a major effect. IFF lasts 16 days and includes three weekends, FE is 10 days, and many cinemas that we collaborate with, especially the smaller ones in Beyoğlu, rely heavily on this income to make it through the year. And it’s not only the cinemas that benefit. The face of Istiklal Street changes during the festivals. Different people come here and even the shop owners on the street ask us ‘why don’t you organize a festival every month?’ Our audiences come, they sit, they eat, they spend money. They buy books—well, there are no more book stores left on Istiklal, that’s another story—but I mean we create an economy.

JC – Last year we corresponded when IFF chose to screen Nymphomaniac (Lars von Trier) after it was banned by the ratings commission. There were concerns about censorship hitting the festivals in a new way at that point because Cinema Directorate (a subsidiary of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism) head Cem Erkul had written to festival organizers saying that all films would have to go through the ratings procedure, which would mark a major shift in the way festivals worked. Did IFF face any fallout from the choice to show Nymphomaniac or local films without a certificate?

AT – The system has to be completely redefined, and instead of a certificate, the existing rating system should be put in effect. The cinema law drafted three years ago will, I believe, help regulate the system and alleviate certain problems, as soon as it is ratified.

JC – 2014 is, by some accounts, the 100th anniversary of Turkish cinema. What do you see as the brightest spots and biggest challenges as cinema moves forward?

Before MP3 downloads, concerts were not so big. But now with the downloads it’s like albums are dead and the big thing is the concert. I think we are witnessing a similar thing with the film festivals. Now festivals are becoming the big event.

AT – You know we’ve been lucky in the sense that our films did pretty well at the festivals. Winning the Golden Palm (Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Kış Uykusu – Winter Sleep at Cannes) after 34 years was a big success in itself. And then we had Song of My Mother (Erol Mintaş – Kurdish and Turkish titles: Klama dayîka min / Annemin Şarkısı) which won the Sarajevo film festival. And then Sivas (Kaan Müjdeci) at Venice, being a first film selected to the main competition. So in that sense it went pretty well.

On the other hand I think we still have a lot to do for Turkish cinema. For example, the main problem is that we’ve been waiting three years for this new cinema law to pass. It’s ready, it’s waiting at parliament, so I think the most urgent thing to do is to pass it. There are new regulations, the system is changing, the industry is changing, and we definitely need a new law.

At the same time, the festivals and general distribution will have to redefine themselves. In a way it’s like the music industry. Before MP3 downloads, concerts were not so big. But now with the downloads it’s like albums are dead and the big thing is the concert. I think we are witnessing a similar thing with the film festivals. Now festivals are becoming the big event. So you can come together, see the films together, talk about the films, see the directors, ask them questions, and it’s become something popular. But then we have to redefine regular release in some way.

poster_50x70_kopru-01We have to sit down and think about what we are doing and having a film institution at the center of it all would be very useful. I mean everybody is trying to work for the promotion of Turkish cinema, like the festivals, the producers’ association, but I think we need a center to organize all these efforts. Otherwise there are too many people working on the same things and there is no continuity.

JC – Something apart from the Cinema Directorate?

AT – I mean a structure similar to the establishments in Europe. Someplace to organize everything. The Ministry of Culture is working with different parties for different tasks, but since there is no continuity there is often no follow-up. This year they did good things—Venice proved to b a wonderful opportunity to make our presence felt celebrating the 100th anniversary of Turkish cinema, and we did something big at Cannes, with the stands and everything—but I think for the upcoming years we have to improve. However, these and similar efforts need to be expanded into the whole year. International bonds, once built, must be sustained. The international presence and representation of Turkey must be continuous. A new cinema law, and a film institution to provide continuity are the most urgent, and then we must tackle the problem of distribution with regards to changing windows, like everywhere else.

JC – And what is the primary problem of distribution?

… we know that 60% of the Turkish box office comes from Turkish films, but it’s only five films that make this number. What happens to the other 65 films?

AT – I mean we are talking about successful Turkish cinema. We’ve got about 70 films produced per year, but we don’t know how many of them are going to be released. Or, for example, we know that 60% of the Turkish box office comes from Turkish films, but it’s only five films that make this number. What happens to the other 65 films? We have to talk more about that. We should have a quota for the distribution of Turkish films. And maybe there are too many films being produced in Turkey, that’s something that we have to discuss as well. It’s not only a problem for Turkey either. It’s all of Europe, with the existing funding system. In fact there are 700 films being produced in Europe per year. Is there an audience for so many films? Apparently not.

Maybe the focus should be to produce less films, but make them more appealing to the audience in a way. I think for the whole world, not just for Turkey, I think to reach and connect with potential audiences is the first priority.

This piece published simultaneously on EndTimesCafe.

5 Yorumsuz – 5 Without Comment – 2015-03-16

1 – Hürriyet Daily News and Today’s Zaman

Turkey’s media watchdog will be given the authority to fine TV channels that violate election broadcast limitations, according to a new omnibus bill presented to parliament, de-authorizing the High Election Board (YSK). The media watchdog, the Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTÜK), will take over the authority to issue warnings and fines to broadcasters for election violations, instead of the YSK, which currently holds the authority, if the bill is passed by parliament. Opposition parties have reacted against the bill, claiming that it is a move to protect pro-government broadcasters.

GIRGIR kapak 2015-03-11 - RTE directing Kabatas shoot2 – Today’s Zaman and others – follow further developments in the Kabataş Gezi Park story, as pro-Government paper Sabah publishes a mock image alongside claims (also in English) that the lack of evidence in the case is actually evidence, and that all of the alleged crimes took place in a 52-second gap in security footage. Satirical cartoon magazine Gırgır includes a cover showing Erdoğan directing a shoot of the events. From Today’s Zaman:

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the pro-government media have revived discredited claims that a woman wearing a headscarf was attacked by a group of Gezi Park protesters, as government mouthpiece the Sabah daily published an illustration on Wednesday linked to debunked claims, even though police have confirmed that the video footage showing the incident does not exist. There were claims that a physical assault was sustained by the woman, whose family has close ties to Erdoğan, during the nationwide anti-government Gezi Park protests in 2013 in front of Istanbul’s Kabataş docks, where nearly 100 men allegedly harassed the woman and her baby. These allegations gave rise to the withdrawal of support by certain segments of society from the Gezi protests.

3 – BGN News and Today’s Zaman report on a piece in Taraf related to a major shift in government surveillance – from BGN:

A new Big Brother-esque surveillance center in President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s TRY 1.4 billion (USD 540 million) presidential palace has been completed. The center will allow the president to monitor all 77 million citizens at all times, with its 143 different screens providing access to all MOBESE (law enforcement CCTV) cameras in all 81 municipalities, all images taken by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) as well as all security camera footage. Able to directly receive information from the systems belonging to the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD), the National Intelligence Agency (MIT), the police and the gendarmerie, the center will also be able to project a target’s personal details and information instantaneously.

4 – Hürriyet Daily News

Turkish police on March 13 detained three people accused of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other top officials on Twitter, after raiding their homes. The raids were the latest in a string of actions against critics of Erdoğan on Twitter, as activists express growing alarm over the limits on freedom of expression in Turkey.

5 – Istanbul Film Festival, sponsored by the The Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (IKSV), released its program for this year’s festival, to run from April 4th to 19th.

5 Yorumsuz – 5 Without Comment – 2015-03-09

1 – Bianet – has released a summary report on the state of journalism in Turkey over the last three years.

The polarization of media and intolerance to different opinions in Turkey soared in the year of 2014 with the incidents of Local Elections on March 30, Presidential Elections on August 10, the resolution process with Kurds and operations against Fethullah Gülen Movement. What the polarizations meant was to choosing between self-censorship or layoffs for journalists, and violation to right to information for readers. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) government prioritized in 2014 its “security-oriented” policies to state of law and basic rights and freedoms despite all criticism.

2 – Today’s Zaman, Radikal, and Zaytung (a satirical news site) – follow the ongoing interest in the Kabataş attack story from Gezi Park

Amid growing debate regarding a fabricated incident of harassment against a woman with a headscarf in Istanbul’s Kabataş neighborhood that apparently never took place, 14 columnists from five pro-government newspapers ran the same headline for their Thursday columns to back the government’s narrative without including any evidence but instead recounting the history of discrimination against the headscarf. During the Gezi Park protests that erupted during the summer of 2013, pro-government journalists reported that a headscarved woman named Zehra Develioğlu was attacked by Gezi protesters on a street in Kabataş on June 1. Although a large part of society was galvanized to turn against the Gezi protesters due to the incident — especially after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who was prime minister at the time, said dozens of half-naked men had attacked the young woman and even urinated on her — footage from nearby security cameras discovered months later showed no evidence that such an attack had even taken place.

3 – Evrensel – notes that On the 4th of March, HDP co-president Selahattin Demirtaş was scheduled to appear on the Cüneyt Özdemir’s 5N1K program on Kanal D at 11:15pm, but the show was rescheduled at the last minute until 1:00am and didn’t actually air until 1:45am. Critics took to Twitter to suggest this was due to the AKP government’s intervention.

4 – Hürriyet Daily News and AlJazeera Turk

A court has ordered President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to pay 10,000 Turkish Liras to the artist responsible for a sculpture in the northeastern province of Kars, which he had demanded the removal of and described as a “freak.” During a Jan. 8, 2011 visit to Kars, then Prime Minister Erdoğan slammed the city’s new 35-meter-tall “Monument to Humanity,” created by sculptor Mehmet Aksoy. An Istanbul court ruled on March 3 for Erdoğan to pay 10,000 liras in moral indemnities to Aksoy, partially accepting the 100,000 liras case Aksoy had filed against Erdoğan.

5 – Medyafaresi – reports that the Turkish dizi (TV series) Son (meaning “the end”), by production firm Ay Yapım, will become the first drama format from Turkey adapted for US television when shooting starts on 27 March in Chicago. The US version of the series will be called Runner.

5 Yorumsuz – 5 (or 6) without comment – 2015-02-23

1 – Guardian

Turkey has staged its first open military operation in Syria, dispatching hundreds of ground troops, tanks, aircraft and drones to extract 38 soldiers guarding a historical Ottoman tomb besieged by Islamic State (Isis) militants. In the first such incursion into Syria since the start of the civil war nearly four years ago, Ankara launched the operation – dubbed “Shah Euphrates” – to move the remains of Suleyman Shah, the grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman empire. The operation was conducted through Kobani, the Kurdish-controlled enclave south of the Turkish-Syrian border that was the scene of a recent victory over Isis by the US-led military coalition.

2 – Hürriyet Daily News

A high school student in Turkey was sentenced to 12 months in prison on Feb. 15 for insulting then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The incident took place as the student, identified only by the initials U.H.C., attended a demonstration in Attalos Square in the southern province of Antalya, in protest at a case involving two other high school students who had been charged after protesting against Erdoğan.

3 – Radikal – Notes that the new film Kod Adi KOZ, which deals with Gezi Park and the 17 December corruption investigations, did poorly in its first few days. Producers were hoping it would break Recep Ivedik 4‘s box office record, but it sold only 127,743 seats during its first three days, meaning it would take a small miracle to reach that goal at this point.

4 – Hürriyet Daily News

A ruling party lawmaker has blamed popular Turkish soap operas for the increase in the number of rape cases in the country, arguing that such series were ruining the nature of the Turkish family structure. “You shoot series and you know no bounds in the relationship between the brother’s wife and uncle. You set no limits, and then you complain about the increase in rape. What were you expecting?  Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind,” İsmet Uçma, a deputy from the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and a member of parliament’s commission investigating the reasons for violence against women, said Feb. 18 during a panel meeting.

5 – Today’s Zaman

The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) has levied a nearly TL 1 million penalty on the Samanyolu Broadcasting Group in what Samanyolu executives consider yet another attempt to silence media outlets close to Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen. “As if there were no other channels, RTÜK is exclusively following our channels and attempting to silence them with astronomic penalties,” said Samanyolu Haber TV Editor-in- Chief Metin Yıkar, commenting on the fine. “RTÜK should be the institution that monitors and regulates this country’s television networks, but it has completely abandoned this role and assumed the position of a political actor,” added Yıkar.

6 – Hürriyet Daily News – Turkish Parliament refuses to probe issues it claims to be very concerned about. The AKP majority voted against suggestions from HDP lawmakers that probes be conducted into (1) the so-called parallel state run by Fethullah Gülen, and (2) ISIL activities in Turkey.

5 Yorumsuz – 5 without comment – 2015-02-16

1 –Oda TV – Notes two columnists writing in the pro-government paper Yeni Şafak have come out against the women who are sharing their own experiences of sexual violence on social media in the wake of recent revelations about the brutal murder of 20-year-old Özgecan Aslan in Mersin. Sevda Türküsev took to Twitter, writing: “To the women who turn to social media to talk about the harassment they’ve experienced rather than to a doctor: come to your senses, do you think you’ll be a hero like on [TV shows]?” [Assuming the dizlerdeki “the one on her knees” was meant to be [dizilerdeki, “the one on the TV shows.”] Meanwhle, Cemile Bayraktar told critics of the government, “Don’t strip at the opportunism to say this is a rapist Mulsim country. A woman is raped in America every two minutes. Now shut your mouths.”

2 – Hürriyet Daily News

The Justice and Development Party (AKP) is moving to destroy all opposition its vision of an authoritarian new Turkey, according to the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB). “The government’s project is to make a new Turkey, so they are trying to design everything – the media, the judiciary. It wants a Turkey that sides with it. They get 50 percent of the votes; they call it the national will and say, ‘People want this.’ No, only 50 percent want this; the other 50 percent do not want it,” said Mehmet Soğancı.

3 – Radikal – Describes the 15 February premiere of Çekmeceler at !f film festival. The team wore black ribbons to show support for the protests of violence against women that have been raised in recent days after the exposure of Özgecan Aslan’s murder. Co-director M. Caner Alper noted that the idea for the film had come up at a previous !f festival when they were showing Zenne, and this is one reason it was appropriate to premiere the film here. As for the 18+ rating, he said the ratings system in Turkey is clearly a problem, but at least the film will be released in the country. Co-director Mehmet Binay downplayed comparisons with Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, saying that it was an honor to be compared to a director like von Trier but their film is quite different, going into the reasons behind the situation. The film will hit cinemas in Turkey on 6 March.

4 – Today’s Zaman

The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) has levied a nearly TL 1 million penalty on the Samanyolu Broadcasting Group in what Samanyolu executives consider yet another attempt to silence media outlets close to Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.

5 – Maedyafaresi – RTÜK says it didn’t fine the dizi Ah Biz Kadınlar for using the word “Tanrı” instead of “Allah,” as reported by various media outlets but, rather, for making fun of god.

Global Agency takes formats worldwide – profile on CEO Izzet Pinto – 21 March 2014

globalagency

[from 21 March 2014 interview as Global headed off to MIPTV]

Global Agency is known in its home town of Istanbul for hosting massive, Gatsbyesque parties trimmed with bands, dance shows, and performing waitstaff at DISCOP. But the firm is no slouch on the road either, as it hits MIPTV this week with a large booth and banners, a traveling crew of 18, handpicked from across the globe, and a wide range of content both fresh and proven.

For founder Izzet Pinto, the parties and the presence are all part of building the brand, and Global is clearly a brand to watch out for. It’s been dubbed the fastest growing distribution firm in the world and, whatever your measure, this is more than hot air.

Izzet Pinto_ 2014

Global has grown by between 100% and 300% every year since it started in 2006, with just two co-workers and a single TV show, Perfect Bride. Now employing 25, including US- and UK-based staff, Global represents nearly 100 products, among them the Ottoman costume drama Magnificent Century. Having been sold to over 50 territories, Century is one of the hottest tickets globally, reaching an audience of over 200M now and perhaps more than 300M when the show starts broadcasting on China’s CCTV this summer.

In no small part due to the success of Century, Global currently has about 75% of its deals in ready-made drama, but Pinto plans to level this out with formats and fact-based content in the near future. To that end he teamed with Century production firm TIMS in 2012 to buy Australian fact-based distributor Worldwide Entertainment. Their first venture under that name is Battle of the Restaurants.

Global’s top-selling formats include Perfect Bride, which is still going strong, and Shopping Monsters, introduced in 2011. Each has covered about 30 territories. Sometimes this success can lead to conflicts. In France last year Shopping Monsters was broadcast head-to-head against another Global product, Decor Monsters. Pinto was relieved when saw both shows doing well and earning nearly identical audience shares.

KYLS

Global’s latest venture is Pinto’s own brainchild, a cross-genre venture called Keep Your Light Shining. He describes it as a music game show, where 12 contestants start each episode and only one emerges at the end of the night. Noting that the audition stages of shows like The Voice were the most popular, Pinto aimed to create something fast-paced, with plenty of room for audience involvement. He’s currently working to license an app that allows viewers join in via second screens. Keep Your Light has been sold to 12 territories and is already in development in the US and Germany, with plans to air on ProSieben in May and CBS this fall.

Though he tends to favor non-scripted formats, Pinto will take on scripted content that he believes in. Global licensed the script for the popular Turkish drama Ask-i Memnu (Forbidden Love) to Telemundo, where it became Pasión Prohibida. In addition to Latin America, Pasión has traveled to France, Italy, and Pakistan. There’s currently an Armenian adaptation in production, and possibilities for Russian, Ukrainian, and Italian versions in the works.

Other scripted formats include Game of Silence, a drama about school mates drawn together after 20 years by a secret from their past, and The Last of the Magikyans, a Russian comedy about a patriarch’s difficulty adapting to his family’s modern ways.

Yes, Russia. While the majority (85%) of Global’s drama is Turkish, about 50% of its formats are from other countries, including Spain, Israel, Romania, France, and Germany. This two-way street works in part thanks to the company’s diverse staff hailing from every part of the globe. This year, as Pinto moves to drive formats sales up towards the level of drama, the name Global may fit better than ever.

Global’s Top-Sellers – with number of territories sold to

  • Drama Magnificent Century – 52
  • 1001 Nights – 49
  • Love And Punishment – 43
  • Iffet – 38
  • Dila – 32

Format

  • Shopping Monsters – 32
  • Perfect Bride – 25
  • Keep Your Light Shining – 12
  • Blind Taste – 9
  • Rivals In Law – 8