Record number of complaints filed against TV show

“Muhteşem Yüzyıl” (A Magnificent Century)

January 11, 2011, Tuesday/ 16:32:00

A new TV series has drawn over 90 percent of the complaints Turkey’s Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) received since its trailers began to be aired.

RTÜK received 64,000 complaints in nine months last year while viewers filed 75,000 complaints in 25 days against the controversial TV show “Muhteşem Yüzyıl” (A Magnificent Century), the Anatolia news agency reported.

The series about the famous Ottoman Sultan Süleiman the Magnificent, also known as Kanuni Sultan Süleyman (Süleiman the Lawmaker), continues to draw criticism for the way the series depicts the empire and the life of the sultan. The repeated scenes of the sultan with women in the harem and historical inaccuracies have resulted in many people calling on RTÜK to ban the series. Trailers for the series, broadcast by Show TV, began to be aired on Dec. 11. From that date until Jan. 6, 93 percent of all complaints filed with the RTÜK concerned “Muhteşem Yüzyıl.” A total of 80,681 complaints were submitted to the council during these 25 days. Among the sum of the complaints, 38,096 of them were submitted after the show was aired on Jan. 5.

RTÜK President Davut Dursun said there has been what he called a “pretty strong” reaction against the series since the trailers were launched.

“This is a rare situation. Ninety-three percent of the complaints up until Jan. 6 were about this show. This was more than normal criticism. There was an extraordinary reaction,” Dursun said.

Not only individuals but also civil society organizations, unions and other organizations submitted complaints with RTÜK, the council’s head noted. Dursun also added that the council does not have the right to ban a TV show, though it can supervise television programs to ensure they comply with regulations.

‘Fiction, not a documentary’

While noting that Turkish society is sensitive when it comes to the presentation of important historical figures, the RTÜK head said: “All in all, this is a show, not a documentary. We’re talking about fiction here.” Dursun added, however, that even fictional shows must take their viewers’ sensitivities into consideration.

Speaking to the Taraf daily, Justice and Development Party (AK Party) deputy Dengir Mir Mehmet Fırat said the criticisms are exaggerated.

AK Party Malatya deputy Mehmet Şahin told the Cihan news agency that it is unfortunate the country’s ancestors are being portrayed as people who are fond of harem fantasies for the sake of high ratings.

Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arıç earlier said it would be appropriate for the channel to take reactions into consideration and cancel the show.

Viewers slam show for smearing Turkish history

Most of the complaints centered on the show misrepresenting and smearing history. “I am complaining about the unreal and irrelevant images shown in the series ‘Muhteşem Yüzyıl’,” an viewer wrote on the RTÜK website. “A program that falsely portrays our history, insults our ancestors and the Ottoman state, and misinforms the public is being aired. Please ban it before it achieves its goal,” another viewer wrote on the website.

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