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Evaluating Turkish TV Series as Soft Power Instruments

Authors:
  • Rumeli University Istanbul Turkey

Abstract

Different societies were ruled under the Ottoman Empire equally, which created an interaction between individuals having different identities and opportunity for living together. The peaceful appeal of the Republic of Turkey in regional and international areas has gained a new meaning with the “soft power” term. Definition of power and competition among the states has been reinterpreted due to the effect of the Cold War at the end of the 20th century. Thanks to the soft power term, the idea of making the desired practice or policies attractive has been preferred so that the importance of forcing practices has decreased. Turkish TV series have become popular in the Middle East, Central Asia, Balkans and South America during the 2000s and have been discussed within different disciplines. On the other hand, the issue that whether these productions are instruments of soft power or not has been examined. In this study, different examples and claims are taken into consideration and evaluated. Türk Televizyon Dizilerinin Yumuşak Güç Aracı Olarak Değerlendirilmesi Farklı toplumların Osmanlı egemenliği altında eşit şekilde yönetilmesi farklı kimliklere sahip bireyler arasında bir etkileşim yaratmış ve birlikte yaşayabilme olanağını doğurmuştur. Türkiye Cumhuriyeti’nin de bölgesel ve uluslararası alandaki barışçıl söylemi, “yumuşak güç” kavramıyla yeni bir anlam kazanmıştır. Devletler arasındaki rekabet ve gücün tanımı 20. yüzyılın sonunda, Soğuk Savaş’ın da etkisiyle yeniden yorumlanmıştır. Yumuşak güç kavramı sayesinde, istenen uygulama veya politikanın cazip şekilde gösterilmesi fikri tercih edilir olmuş ve böylelikle zorlama olarak yorumlanabilecek uygulamaların önemi azalmıştır. Türk yapımı televizyon dizileri 2000’li yıllarda Ortadoğu, Orta Asya, Balkanlar ve Güney Amerika’da popüler olmuş ve farklı disiplinler çerçevesinde ele alınmıştır. Diğer yandan bu yapımların Türkiye için bir yumuşak güç aracı olup olmadığı da incelenmeye değer görülmüştür. Çalışmada, farklı örnekler ve iddialar dikkate alınarak bunun değerlendirmesi yapılmıştır.
ISSN:2528-9527
E-ISSN:2528-9535
Yıl
Year
:7
Cilt
Volume
:7
Sayı
Issue
:13
Aralık
December
2017
Makalenin Geliş Tarihi
Received Date
:15/11/2017
Makalenin Kabul Tarihi
Accepted Date
:16/12/2017
OPUS ©
Uluslararası Toplum Araştırmaları Dergisi-International Journal of Society Researches
ISSN:2528-9527 E-ISSN : 2528-9535
http://opusjournal.net
Evaluating Turkish TV Series as Soft Power Instru-
ments
DOI: 10.26466/opus.353287
*
Nehir Ağırseven* - Armağan Örki**
*Okt., Trakya Üniversitesi, Edirne/Türkiye
E-Posta: nehiragirseven@yahoo.com ORCID: 0000-0002-2051-7790
**Trakya Üniversitesi, Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü, Uluslararası İlişkiler AD Doktora Programı
Öğrencisi, Edirne/Türkiye
E-Posta: armaganorki@gmail.com ORCID: 0000-0002-6906-0031
Abstract
Different societies were ruled under the Ottoman Empire equally, which created an interaction be-
tween individuals having different identities and opportunity for living together. The peaceful appeal
of the Republic of Turkey in regional and international areas has gained a new meaning with the
“soft power” term. Definition of power and competition among the states has been reinterpreted due
to the effect of the Cold War at the end of the 20th century. Thanks to the soft power term, the idea of
making the desired practice or policies attractive has been preferred so that the importance of forcing
practices has decreased. Turkish TV series have become popular in the Middle East, Central Asia,
Balkans and South America during the 2000s and have been discussed within different disciplines.
On the other hand, the issue that whether these productions are instruments of soft power or not has
been examined. In this study, different examples and claims are taken into consideration and evalu-
ated.
Keywords: Soft power, TV series, the Balkans, Middle East, Central Asia
ISSN:2528-9527
E-ISSN:2528-9535
Yıl
Year
:7
Cilt
Volume
:7
Sayı
Issue
:13
Aralık
December
2017
Makalenin Geliş Tarihi
Received Date
:15/11/2017
Makalenin Kabul Tarihi
Accepted Date
:16/12/2017
OPUS ©
Uluslararası Toplum Araştırmaları Dergisi-International Journal of Society Researches
ISSN:2528-9527 E-ISSN : 2528-9535
http://opusjournal.net
Türk Televizyon Dizilerinin Yumuşak Güç Aracı
Olarak Değerlendirilmesi
DOI: 10.26466/opus.353287
*
Öz
Farklı toplumların Osmanlı egemenliği altında eşit şekilde yönetilmesi farklı kimliklere sahip bireyler
arasında bir etkileşim yaratmış ve birlikte yaşayabilme olanağını doğurmuştur. Türkiye Cumhuri-
yeti’nin de bölgesel ve uluslararası alandaki barışçıl söylemi, “yumuşak güç” kavramıyla yeni bir
anlam kazanmıştır. Devletler arasındaki rekabet ve gücün tanımı 20. yüzyılın sonunda, Soğuk Sa-
vaş’ın da etkisiyle yeniden yorumlanmıştır. Yumuşak güç kavramı sayesinde, istenen uygulama veya
politikanın cazip şekilde gösterilmesi fikri tercih edilir olmuş ve ylelikle zorlama olarak yorumla-
nabilecek uygulamaların önemi azalmıştır. Türk yapımı televizyon dizileri 2000’li yıllarda Orta-
doğu, Orta Asya, Balkanlar ve Güney Amerika’da popüler olmuş ve farklı disiplinler çerçevesinde
ele alınmıştır. Diğer yandan bu yapımların Türkiye için bir yumuşak güç aracı olup olmadığı da
incelenmeye değer görülmüştür. Çalışmada, farklı örnekler ve iddialar dikkate alınarak bunun değer-
lendirmesi yapılmıştır.
Anahtar Kelimeler : Yumuşak güç, televizyon dizileri, Balkanlar, Orta Du, Orta Asya
Evaluating Turkish TV Series as Soft Power Instruments
838
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Uluslararası Toplum Araştırmaları Dergisi
Introduction
Considering its opportunities and risks, globalisation has been a contro-
versial term in international relations literature. It is inevitable that states
expand their area of sovereignty or societies increase interaction with each
other due to the effects of technology on mass media (Perşembe, 1991:
176). Although this situation seems to be a risk on the nation state, it acts
as a means for reinforcing national benefits (Göker, 1997:3). Protection of
the national identity is, in sum, related to the active or passive role in in-
teraction process.
This study focuses on whether Turkey is considered to be a soft power
or not and the effect of Turkish TV series on this. In spite of the fact that it
seems impossible to reach a definite result, it is aimed at making an eval-
uation from the concepts, scientists’ views and limited data.
In the first part, brief information about the place of nearby geography
(the Balkans, Middle East and Central Asia) in Turkish Foreign Policy and
Turkish TV series is given. The definition of soft power term is made in
the main part which also focuses on the elements of soft power. Then, TV
series are discussed as soft power elements with different examples and
general findings about ratings of Turkish TV series abroad are presented.
Evaluation in lieu of conclusion is presented in the last part based on the
compiled data.
The reasons for the choice of the Balkans, Middle East and Central Asia
instead of the South America in the study are ethnic existence of Turkish
people in these regions, presence of different ethnic groups choosing Islam
or cultural similarity with the Ottoman Empire. Evaluation of Turkish TV
series as soft power in these regions is considered to be more realistic.
1.1. A General View on the Balkans, the Middle East and the Central
Asia in Turkish Foreign Policy
In this part the source and necessity of Turkey’s policies towards the
nearby regions and features of these policies are briefly presented. Thus,
one can have an idea whether TV series can be used as soft power instru-
ments by Turkey.
1.1.1. The Balkans
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Turkey followed peaceful policies in the Balkans during and after Mustafa
Kemal Atatürk’s period and the Balkans have played an important role in
Turkish foreign policy since the 1990s with the increase in intersocietal co-
operation awareness. Different ethnic, religious and denominational iden-
tities were ruled with tolerance by the Ottoman Empire in the region even
before the Republic and weren’t assimilated. The benefit the two successor
states existing in different years have gained today is cultural harmony or
the possibility of meeting on common ground. Even though this geogra-
phy witnessed bloody wars such as Bosnian War and ethnic conflicts like
in Kosovo in near past, different societies having different identities could
live peacefully for centuries.
According to Bayraktar (2012:186), considering the Balkans as a soft
power area for Turkey depends on the fact that local people accepted the
Ottoman Empire as a superordinate identity thanks to Ottoman tolerance.
Although this view isn’t true for every society today, it is valid for the ones
sharing common values like language, ethnicity or religion with Turkish
society.
It isn’t possible to deal with the Balkans as a whole in Turkish foreign
policy because there is a difference between the European Union member
states and non-member states in the region. Turkish minority of Western
Thrace, Turkish people living on the islands, air space dispute and territo-
rial waters are some problematic issues and differences between the mem-
ber country Greece and non-member Turkey. Furthermore, Cyprus issue
is one of the factors affecting the relationship between two countries. The
whole region especially Greece also plays an essential role in energy poli-
cies. Different works are performed on energy transmission lines from the
Middle East or Caucasus to Turkey and from the Balkans to Europe such
as Trans-Anatolian Gas Pipeline. Therefore, the region is essential for Tur-
key in fields like trade, tourism and education.
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1.1.2. Middle East
Turkey’s relations with the Middle East states are similar to the relations
with the Balkans. It shouldn’t be forgotten that regional balances change
due to the terror, civil wars and wars and international actors have deter-
mining roles in this balance in addition to cooperation and conflict among
the regional states in this geography. Iran-Iraq War, Gulf War, 2003 Inva-
sion of Iraq, Syrian Civil War, terrorist groups such as PKK and ISIS are
some examples related to the issue. Considering 2017, it’s clear that US
and Russia have important roles in this region like supporting different
actors.
The Middle East is an important export market for Turkey and most of
Turkey’s energy need is provided from that region (Çeştepe, 2012: 27).
Some of the energy lines connected to Turkey extend from this region and
transfers are performed through sea and land transport. Turkey should
increase its attractiveness in the light of political events considering ter-
rorist groups growing up in volatile regions stemming from Syrian Civil
War which continues and becomes a sectarian issue.
It is impractical to classify the regional states into two as Muslim or
Jewish considering the religion they belong to. Ethnic differences are
available. Furthermore, Muslims can be classified at least into three re-
garding denomination. It is challenging for Turkey and all of its rivals to
build simultaneous good relations and leave the same impression on all
the states like Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt and Iraq whose identities,
allies, rivals and aims are different. It is worth trying to use soft power
instruments on the ones except for the states experiencing war or some of
whose lands are controlled by terrorist groups.
1.1.3. Central Asia
Turkey’s relations with Central Asian states who are mostly Turkish and
who emerged after the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
with the end of the Cold War are generally positive. Even though Turkey’s
being a role model for these states came to the fore in the 1990s, there
aren’t any proposals about this subject today. Most of these states chose
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strong partners anyway. At least, we can say that relations between these
states are ordinary.
Four states forming Central Asian Turkic Republics (Turkmenistan,
Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan), Tadzhikistan and Pakistan are
states that Turkey has established good relations with compared to some
of its border neighbours. When we compare with air space violations with
Greece, mistreatments to minorities in Bulgaria or supporting terrorist
groups in Armenia, we can come to this conclusion. Eastern and Western
forces are effective in determining relations with Central Asian states. Dif-
ferences in foreign policy could be seen between the states close to Russian
and Chinese bloc and US and EU bloc. Moreover, international treaties to
which these states are a party matter to Turkey.
Central Asia is important geostrategically as it is surrounded by Paki-
stan and India in the South, China in the east, Russia in the North and Iran
and the Caspian Sea in the West. The region is also very rich in terms of
natural gas which can be transmitted through the pipelines existing, being
constructed or planned to be built from Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan to
Turkey and Europe via Azerbaijan.
Demographic features of Central Asia in terms of ethnicity and religion
are similar to Turkey much more compared to the Balkans and Middle
East. On the other hand, there are some differences like language in the
sense of historic process and cultural differences accordingly. The possi-
bility of exporting TV series to the region is relatively low because of au-
thoritarian regimes and broadcaster TV channels. While the Middle East,
South Asia, Balkans and Russia are shown as main importers according to
the TV series export statistics, Central Asia couldn’t rank among top four
(Achilli, 2016).
1.2. Turkish TV series
TV broadcasting in Turkey started in the 1950s but broadcasting via TRT
(Turkish Radio and Television Corporation) was brought to life at the end
of the 1960s. Local TV series such as Kaçaklar, Kaynanalar, Aşk-ı Memnu
and Yılkı Atı were broadcasted in the 1970s. During the next decade a lot
of different productions like Lüküs Hayat and Bizimkiler were released.
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The end of the 1980s and the 1990s in general were the periods when Jan-
uary 24 decisions
1
took effect and the effect showed itself in a wide context
from the import of colour television to establishment of private TV chan-
nels, from consumption to popular culture (Toruk, 2005:502).
A tough competition among TV channels has taken place since the
2000s. TV series, competitions and other programmes designed in differ-
ent themes can be seen. Foreign TV series started to be broadcasted on TV
channels in the same period.
The research on the recent period of Turkish TV series gives infor-
mation about overall picture of the productions. According to the research
conducted by Deloitte Turkey (2014) more than half of the TV series are
120-180 minutes long including the length of advertisements. More than
20% of nearly 60-70 TV series aired every season discontinue broadcasting
in the first six months. However, the income from the export of TV series
increased by 15 times in the last five years (2009-2014). Turkish TV series
sector managing to export the most TV series following the USA exported
nearly 150 Turkish TV series to more than 100 countries by the end of 2016
(total for all years; Aktaş, 2016). Taking TV series broadcasted during and
after the 2000s into consideration, different types like adaptations of sev-
eral types of novels, romantic, historic or detective ones can be seen. This
variety is available in the exported TV series as well.
2. Soft Power and Television Series
Firstly, information about what the term soft power is and how it entered
the literature is presented in this part of the study. Then, the elements of
this power is explained. At the end of this part whether TV series can be
regarded as soft power elements or not and in which conditions soft
power can be taken into consideration are discussed.
1
It was a program affecting the economic regime of the country directly. It was ap-
proved on January 24, 1980 and put into effect in the 1990s.
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2.1.The Term Soft Power
According to Nye (2004a:11) who introduced the term into the literature
and whose name has been identified with soft power, culture, political
values and foreign policy are source of soft power. Soft power based on
these sources enables one not to need hard power to get the target, that is,
prevents to use military and/or economic factors as instruments. The ex-
istence of multinational corporations that are economically more powerful
than a lot of countries makes coalitions formed in governmental policies
more complicated (Nye, 1990:157). In these circumstances, functionality of
embargo, war and similar convincing ways has decreased. To get some-
thing done by using military and economic factors as instruments and
threat and pressure that are relatively more difficult ways have caused the
term soft power to increase in value. In short, the way of making states
follow the other states’ wishes or policies has been possible by soft power.
Although soft power term entered the literature in the 1990s, Valbjorn
(2009:155-156) explained Egypt’s cultural domination over Arab World in
the 1950s by this term. Egypt really managed to extend its area of influence
without using military or economic force and to get ahead in Arab World
by making use of public diplomacy. USA victory in the cold war was
thanks to its ability to use the soft power properly (Nye 2004). European
Union is considered to be the most effective example of soft power. In this
regard, it is considered that epitomes of this power are available but the
data shows that this power is a part or stage of the process in today’s lit-
erature.
2.2. Soft Power Elements: Television
As mentioned above, according to Nye; the elements having role in for-
mation of soft power are based on three sources. According to Karagül
(2013:83) these are education, science, art and economy oriented elements
and enabled by media, universities, non-governmental organizations and
multinational corporations. The influence of media, international organi-
zations and transformation of international system to multipolarity play
role in this picture (Şener, 2014). Most probably, the power of media in-
creased in the 2000s due to the reasons like easiness of technology transfer,
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easier access to internet, more efficient use of research on audience, diffi-
cult conditions of competition and competition among broadcasters.
Therefore, programmes like series or movies can be watched on TVs, PCs
or even mobile phones, which means not only convenience for the audi-
ence but also easier access to more people for the broadcaster. According
to Nye (2006), the problem here is that governments cannot control popu-
lar culture although they spend on public diplomacy, broadcasting and
exchange programmes. It is difficult for a government to use this instru-
ment directly. On the other hand, the government’s encouraging products
and making their export convenient and making improvements in the sec-
tor is a plus.
This study focuses on the influence of television on soft power. To
make life style and all the details shaping it attractive is the main aim.
Promoting Turkish cuisine abroad successfully and leaving a positive
mark can be shown as an example (Milor, 2016). Being a source of cultural
inspiration to provide impressiveness and efficiency in public diplomacy
can be tried by using different instruments. The influence of televisions
and TV series having continuity in TV broadcast can be considered.
Another detail to be underlined is in what ways the ideas in TV pro-
ductions are presented to audience. For example, the Smurfs is directly
identified with communism (Hruby, 2011). In the Smurfs example while
no data is available directly for communist propaganda, there is an im-
pression that some details are selected ideologically and presented posi-
tively. On the other hand, there are also propaganda oriented produc-
tions. The best related examples are films produced in Germany under
Nazi rule. Another way is to use productions intended for subconscious
and generally used for the advertisements of the products. Although
claims related to the subliminal messages have an extensive coverage in
social media, there are two questions considering that. The first one is how
effective they are, the second is whether they are intentional or not. “Eat
popcorn drink coke” experiment conducted by James Vicary was the first
study in this regard. As a result of this study conducted Vicary, a market
researcher, the increase in coke and popcorn sales was seen (Love, 2011).
If soft power is an aim at making a situation or policy desirable, a com-
parison among these three methods enables to get more efficient results:
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Productions like the Smurfs which don’t display the desired ex-
plicitly, but implicitly,
Propagandas made explicitly like in Nazi Germany,
Messages given in regular intervals and different ways.
Similar situation to the Smurfs example is also available in some of Hol-
lywood productions. For instance, most of the disasters occur in the
United States. American scientists overcome this problem or in case of ter-
ror or war in another place of the World the US army or blue-ribbon Amer-
ican citizens resolve the problem fairly. There are several ideas that films
like Black Hawk Down (2001), Pearl Harbour (2001), United 93 (2006), The
Interview (2014) might be considered as instruments for this aim but this
cannot be verified because there are only claims that messages are im-
posed intentionally. However, there isn’t any data that shows producers
or scriptwriters accept that.
Broadcasting films or series made directly for a propaganda in another
country doesn’t seem reasonable in today’s conditions and there aren’t
any related examples. It only seems possible that such a case can be cre-
ated by a government for its own society. The short cartoon named
“Chavez in Heaven” can be considered to be an effective propaganda in-
strument today. On the other hand, its influence is controversial and it is
impossible to get concrete data.
The alternative that can be associated with more product and service
sales is more closed to comment. For instance, to cover the brand name of
a car seen on the screen may not hide which brand name the unique-de-
signed car belong to or names or logos of some products may not be no-
ticed. Another option is to promote effectively but it is difficult to use this
as a government instrument in the short or medium term.
Among the three types of methods mentioned, the most convenient
one that can be used as soft power is the Hollywood example and from
the Smurfs to the Interview, its influence is more sensible. To think long
term for governments and political ideas, to share objectives through the
decades and to work for achieving the goal with the other instruments
seem more realistic. While propaganda means imposition rather than
making desirable, product/service placement is shorter term and more
suitable for commercial purpose.
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2.3. Interpretation of TV Series as a Soft Power Element
Nye (2004:17) gave the Hollywood example as one of the elements consti-
tuting American soft power. On the other hand, Purtaş (2013:10-11) re-
garded television productions watched by large mass abroad as effective
elements in changing perspective and perception towards Turkey in a
positive way. When under which conditions productions like films, series
and cartoons give messages is reconsidered, the influence of productions
presented to the audience in certain periods and making a situation or idea
look positive or accepting it as normal stands out.
TV series aren’t suitable for the purpose of direct propaganda. Even if,
they are produced for this purpose, it is very difficult to make them watch
in a foreign country since governments have limited opportunities. To
give subliminal message by placing several product and service names,
logos or ideological ideas is a commercial method used by producers and
is made free under several conditions (there are bans on competition and
advertisements). The productions that don’t reveal the desired explicitly
but that can internalise in a certain period and/or involve accepted norms
(like the Smurfs or Hollywood action films) can give more realistic results.
If the TV series named Gümüş which is known to be constantly watched
abroad had always focused on high achievement or facility of Turkey in a
certain field, could it have maintained its popularity? If a message like “Go
to Turkey as a tourist” or a visual had been often presented explicitly or
implicitly in the series, what reaction would the audience have shown
when the situation was recognized. As seen, these two methods weren’t
chosen in the series, the topic of the series continued as it was engrossing
(the audience became curious about the next part and addicted to it).
Therefore, the audience watched the production only for having fun and
didn’t expect anything else. It’s probable that in a certain period of time,
the series made the audience interested in from houses to belvederes, from
city life to fashion and the audience took those new things normal.
The last episode of the TV series Gümüş was broadcasted in 2007 in
Turkey but it was watched in some foreign countries in 2008 (Öztürk &
Atik, 2016: 74). After the release of Gümüş in the United Arab Emirates,
an increase of more than 30% in the number of tourists visiting Turkey
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was observed (Alphan, 2011). As for the effects of the TV series in the re-
gion where it was watched, it was claimed that the series caused an in-
crease in divorces in Arab World (Deniz, 2010:58). The performance that
the same series showed in North Africa and Arabian Peninsula was eval-
uated as an intentional cultural export (Kimmelman, 2010). When the term
soft power is reconsidered via this series, attracting tourists to Turkey
should be regarded as an achievement. However, it is obvious that the
increase in number of divorces in another country doesn’t have a meaning
for Turkish public diplomacy or goals of Turkey. On the other hand, to
accept the TV series as soft power instruments, extending in a certain pe-
riod intentionally (the one made desirable) or unintentionally (the one al-
ready normal) rather than using direct propaganda or idea or product
placement instruments is more realistic.
It was also claimed that Turkish series had effect on removing the neg-
ative impression remaining from the Ottomans to Turkey in the Balkans.
(Sofia Press Agency, 2011 reporting from Der Standard). Such a situation
can be considered to be the biggest and long term achievement that could
be obtained via soft power. Furthermore, there is a possibility of making
an overall assumption based on this claim.
2.4. General Findings about Evaluating Turkish Television Series as
Soft Power Instruments
Several societies’ getting used to Turkish television series can be regarded
as a plus in terms of their ratings. Varol (2016) attributed the success of
exported series in different regions like the Balkans, Middle East, South
America to the human focused stories, naturalness of relations and differ-
ence between the East and West in TV series. For Albania, Tartari (2015:12)
determined that most of these productions were compiled from the liter-
ature and traditional stories of the Middle East and the Balkans. This eval-
uation provides an opportunity to comment not only on the results related
to Albania but also on the Balkans generally. As for the success of Turkish
television series in the Balkans, preference of patriarchal family structure
in the series instead of Western type family model was shown as a reason
(Hamzic vd. 2013).
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There are also differences in reactions like the variation in supported
reasons of success. Even some people claimed that Turkey pursued the
goal of creating new state borders or ideologies and reacted to Turkish
series indirectly (Lopusina, 2010). Similar reactions were also shown by
different people for religious, national or financial reasons in the 2010s,
which constitutes a concrete example on the ratings of TV series.
In the previous part, some data on the TV series Gümüş were presented
and the connection with soft power was established from a certain point
of view. This series was released in the Balkan countries like Romania,
Bulgaria and Greece except the Middle East and South America (Bora,
2013). The similar results like the increase in the number of tourists com-
ing from the Middle East countries can be observed in the Balkans because
it is known that these geographies have common values; but there is no
data or search about it.
The TV series named Yabancı Damat broadcasted on weekdays in the
summer of 2005 in Greece attracted great attention and then different se-
ries started to be broadcasted in different Greek TV channels (Yörük &
Vatikiotis, 2013:2364). The criticism made by some groups in Greece from
religious officials to actors was reflected in the media.
Bulgaria imported 27 different Turkish series such as Binbir Gece and
Yaprak Dökümü in 2010 and became the second country to which Turkey
exported TV series most (Sofia Press Agency reporting from the Bulgarian
National Radio, 2011a). From the given data, it can be understood that the
Balkans are a good market for Turkish TV series. Especially, the 2010s can
be described as the golden age. The following data is very important in
order to understand popularity of Turkish TV series (Hamzic vd. 2013).
“(…) Turkish shows are most watched in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Mace-
donia followed by Kosovo and Serbia, where the phenomenon is still developing.
Research by Mareco Index Bosnia shows that in the first quarter of 2013, for ex-
ample, 13 Turkish shows were being screened on nine stations by two TV net-
works. (…) In Macedonia, of nine Turkish shows on air, five were ranked in Jan-
uary 2013 among the top 15 in terms of viewers, according to AGB Nielsen.
(…)Three Turkish shows are currently on air in Kosovo. (...) In Serbia, four Turk-
ish soaps are currently on air on three television stations... (...) Research from this
year shows that in January 2013 the top two Turkish shows were “Magnificent
Century,” which ranked fourth, and “As Time Goes By,” which came seventh…”
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The series named Muhteşem Yüzyıl, which was broadcasted as a cos-
tume drama TV series and that became a current issue in Turkey, was
watched in a large area from the Balkans to the Middle East. The thing
that makes this series different from the others is being a production
which was exported to the largest number of countries among Turkish se-
ries (Yılmaz, 2015). In his speech about the effect of TV series on Turkey,
İzzet Pinto working in the related sector stated that an increase of 350% in
number of tourists coming from the Middle East was observed in five
years. He claimed Turkey managed this thanks to the TV series and even
concept parties were organized on Muhteşem Yüzyıl (Al Jazeera Turk,
2014).
It is seen that the series weren’t watched in high rates but managed to
have a considerable place and reach a certain mass. Undoubtedly, the fact
that they became the agenda of news and research and were exposed to
effective and different reactions can give an idea in this context.
3. In Lieu of Conclusion
Soft power cannot be regarded as an instrument of influence on its own
but when especially public diplomacy is considered to be a process, it is
an indispensable part of this process in today’s conditions. In this regard,
smart power, the combination of hard and soft power shouldn’t be over-
looked. When the existence of a balance in terms of power is accepted, it
is understood soft power is certainly a part of this balance.
It seems obvious that TV series are instruments of soft power but what
goal the productions pursue or what message they give cannot be under-
stood exactly. Positive side of the situation is that they are effective on at-
tracting tourists to Turkey and enabling audience to think well of Turkey.
These series should be encouraged and supported in this context and even
if nothing is done related to their ratings in Turkey, works on their export
can be carried out.
2010s were the years when Turkish TV series were popular in a wide
geographic area from the South America to the Middle East, from the Cen-
tral Asia to the Balkans. Unfortunately, the success of the TV series
watched in these regions has decreased to some extent and the new ones
have been added to the productions becoming the topic of research and
Evaluating Turkish TV Series as Soft Power Instruments
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news less. Although the export of Turkish TV series continues, either the
number of series whose influence is at issue has decreased or they are the
subject of studies less and less as this situation becomes usual.
In short, Turkish TV series are effective instruments of soft power in
different geographic areas and countries that the Ottomans and Turkey
dominated. When they are taken into consideration as instruments, they
act for the benefit of Turkey. In addition to direct financial contribution,
the series play an important role in contributing to several sectors, attitude
towards Turkey and its vision.
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Kaynakça Bilgisi / Citation Information
Ağırseven, N. ve Örki, A. (2017). Evaluating Turkish tv series as soft
power instruments. OPUS International Journal of Society Re-
searches, 7(13), 836-853.
... Filmlerin karakter üzerindeki etkisin yanında bir kültür aktarım aracı olduğunu vurgulayan çeşitli çalışmalar da mevcuttur. Ağırseven ve Örki (2017), 2000'li yıllarda Türk dizilerinin Ortadoğu, Orta Asya, Balkanlar ve Güney Amerika'nın çeşitli ülkelerine ihraç edilmesinden yola çıkarak bu dizileri, insanları çeşitli noktalarda etkileme başarısına sahip "yumuşak güç" olarak tanımlamışlardır. Çalışmada Türk dizilerinin izleyicileri, özellikle Türkiye'yi ziyaret etme isteği noktasında etkilediği vurgulanmıştır. ...
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Turkish dramas conquer the world
  • G Achilli
Achilli, G. (2016) Turkish dramas conquer the world, http://www.middleeasteye.net/in-depth/features/turkish-tv-series-surge-popularityworldwide-127494716 (19.02.2017)
Türk dizilerinin yeni hedefi Uzakdoğu pazarı
  • Y Aktaş
Aktaş, Y. (2016) Türk dizilerinin yeni hedefi Uzakdoğu pazarı, http://aa.com.tr/tr/kultur-sanat/turk-dizilerinin-yeni-hedefi-uzakdogu-pazari/698829 (10.02.2017)