Turkish soap operas have nailed viewers in front of the TV screens
Inbox 7 investigated how many Macedonian programs are broadcasted on TV channels in the country and we came to striking data – we are on the Balkans bottom. There are no production houses to produce home soap operas. There are too many TV channels on the market that are not able to produce a program, and their place is taken by the Turkish film production, broadcasted for even 11 hours a day
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Marathon soap operas occupy the attention of Macedonian viewers in front of TV screens (with some exceptions) which in recent years have been inundated with Turkish soap operas, dubbed in Macedonian. These soap operas have literally nailed people for hours in front of the TV screens. Turkish series are trendy and on top of the list according to all rating surveys, but this state of broadcasting soap operas of questionable quality and artistic value in the country has lasted for almost 20 years. It began in the ‘90s with the soap opera Cassandra on the Macedonian Television. Latin American production was present until 10 years ago, when it was replaced with Indian production.
Inbox 7 investigated how many Macedonian programs are broadcasted on TV channels in the country and we came to striking data – we are on the Balkans bottom. Thus, according to the latest data released by the Agency for Audio and Audiovisual Media Services, only Sitel adheres to the obligation 30 percent of the programs to be in Macedonian language, other national commercial TV channels have at some point faced problems to provide this percentage of programs. By comparison, on the most popular Serbian TV channel B92, 65 percent of the programs are Serbian, while on the Bulgarian Nova TV this ratio goes up to 70 percent domestic and 30 percent foreign programs.
Regarding financial aspects, Macedonian TV channels are not so bad, under the percentage of GDP that stands for private national televisions.
But what is the future of the Macedonian TV industry? How far is the production of home programs? We tried to find answers to these questions in our analysis in which we included the findings of the Balkan media industry.
“Brainwashing” soap operas
Journalists and former editors we talked to say that soap operas are part of the government’s strategy in winning over the masses.
According to , member of the Broadcasting Council, of 24 hours a day, Turkish soap operas are broadcasted for 11 hours.
“Turkish soap operas are invention of Velija Ramkovski and not randomly news is incorporated in them as a package. Want it or not, you have to see it. Government advertisements are also put in the Turkish soap operas. Turkish soap operas serve well to ruling structures. TV is the only entertainment to poor citizens. TV channels are turned into excellent means of “brainwashing”, says Aco Kabranov, former editor in chief of A1, Kanal 5 and TV Alfa.
He adds that the TV programs are created by the nexus of government and media owners and he thinks that Macedonian viewers are deliberately made to watch kitsch soap operas.
Turkish soap operas – main income for the media
Leading people in Macedonian TV channels agree that the quality of soap operas is debatable, but say they are a great source of income. Dragan Pavlovic – Latas, editor of Sitel TV emphasizes that these soap operas are so highly viewed that they determine the ratings of the news, too.
“Turkish soap operas destroy journalism and TV programs. Television audience does not watch Macedonian programs. Home program do not bring any income”, says Latas.
He adds that if this trend continues, more journalists will lose their jobs. In 2008 when broadcasting of Turkish soap operas began, in commercial TV stations nationally there were about 800 employees. In 2014 this number dropped to 576.
Bisera Jordanovska, director of Alsat M TV has a similar opinion.
“Damages from the soap operas can be large in mid and long term, but in the short term, from these soap operas we feed families in Macedonia, whose members work in televisions. In Alsat we have 100 employees who receive salaries from the income. According to a market research, Turkish soap operas mostly viewed. We must have them to be able to finance other programs that are part of our production”, says Jordanovska.
She adds that four years ago they tried to produce their own soap opera “Mihan’s Hotel” which reached the ratings of Turkish soap operas, but companies and marketing agencies did not want to advertise in this soap opera.
Kanal 5 TV has similar expectations about the ratings of Macedonian production. Lidija Bogatinova, editor in chief of this media says that Kanal 5 shoots its own soap opera, which is commendable and encouraging.
“There is a post production of this soap opera going on and from the beginning of next year we are starting with the first episodes. Kanal 5 has already employed actors and we want to offer Macedonian viewers local contents”, says Bogatinova.
She adds that the time of Turkish soap operas is about to end and we should reorient to our own production.
In this context is the information that has recently arrived from Croatia – on local TV channels Turkish soap operas have very low ratings so they have been withdrawn from part of these TV stations.
Home production from next year
Next year Macedonian TV channels will be obliged to broadcast a program primarily of home production. By 2016, according to the Law on Media of 2013, 50 percent of the total program of national TV channels must be of home production, something that Serbia has been doing for several years. Following the amendments to the laws, each TV channel will be obligated to annually air 20 hours of own feature program, or a feature program of home production, says Stole Naumov, journalist and former member of the Broadcasting Council.
“Bulgaria is an example of how to work on program production. Money has been invested in good production and now they have great soap operas. Once it was inconceivable such films to come out from there”, says Naumov.
Bisera Jordanovska from Alsat also refers to Bulgarian production as an example of good organizational structure.
“In Bulgaria there is a film village where soap operas can be shot, which facilitates the work of producers. Here first we need to seek permits for shooting in public places or contracts with private entities to shoot, which complicates the whole process”, says Jordanovska.
She adds that it is good news that the state will subsidize part of the costs for shooting these soap operas.
Editor: Stojanka Mitreska