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Cablegate: Turkey: Reality Tv Show Ratings On the Rise

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DE RUEHAK #0605/01 0921222
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 011222Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5754
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD 1182
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ANKARA 000605

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL TU
SUBJECT: TURKEY: REALITY TV SHOW RATINGS ON THE RISE

1. (U) As the Turkish public grows weary of the complicated
and discouraging political developments dominating the news
and talk shows, they are turning increasingly to reality TV
shows for entertainment. TRT Program Director Nisan
Budalalik has seen a marked increase in viewership of
American-style "reality shows."

-- "Kasimpasali Cocuk" (The Guy from Kasimpasha): Ali T, a
combative illiterate comic "thug" uses fake journalistic
credentials to put Turkey's leading figures into
uncomfortable situations. One recent episode showed the host
trying to head-clink Nationalist Action Party (MHP) Devlet
Bahceli before being tackled by bodyguards. In another, the
interviewer baffled Chief of the Turkish General Staff
General Buyukanit into stunned silence when he asserted that
the term "Turkmen" was obviously an Anglicism for "Turkish
men" and therefore the cherished kinship between Turks and
their ethnic kin in Northern Iraq was an American plot to
trip up Turkey.

-- "Who Wants to Be a Turkish Millionaire?": Plucky young
grads from top universities compete to win a job with Mehmet
Emin Karamehmet. Episode 1 features the two teams -- CimBom
and Fener -- competing to sell the largest number of simits
in Istanbul's Taksim Square. CimBom's manager Mehmet Ali
leads his team in implementing a flashy song-and-dance
strategy, but is upstaged by Fener, which uses the
time-honored "Simit-yell" technique to coast to victory.
Karamehmet faults Mehmet Ali for poor management, but
ultimately determines that team member Umur Azoza's combative
personality sowed seeds of discord that undid CimBom's unity,
leading to the loss. "Umur Azoza, KOVULDUN!"

-- "The Pious Life": Kubra Gul and Esra Erdogan join the
staff of Club Med Antalya. In the most recent episode, Kubra
accuses Esra of stealing her signature double knot twist
headscarf method. Greek shipping heir Stavros Niachos made a
guest appearance.

-- "Turkey's Next Top Headscarf Model": A catwalk showdown
between models sporting brightly colored silk "turbans" and
traditional Anatolian scarves tied under the chin turned ugly
when a discussion among the all-male panel of judges erupted
into a fistfight.

-- "Fear Factor: Turkey": A recent episode featured a
profusely sweating contestant enduring a university lecture
flanked by two headscarf-wearing students.

-- "Pimp My Tofash": A team of hipsters redesign
80-horsepower jalopies to sport airbrushed wolves,
automatically unfurling crescent-and-star banners, and horns
that play the first few bars of the Independence March.

2. (U) Some of the shows have engendered substantial
political dispute.

-- "The Turkish Bachelor": When the bachelor unexpectedly
proposed to the homeliest bachelorette, who professed her
desire to have "at least" three children, Republican People's
Party (CHP) chairman Baykal immediately reacted in a press
conference calling the show "rigged by (Prime Minister)
Erdogan." Erdogan in turn blamed the Dogan Media Group for
creating Bachelor tensions. Devlet Bahceli raised his fist
in the air, only to trip when he tried to take a step back.

-- Hit show "Big Brother: Kandil" prompted Baykal to call for
a national boycott. According to Baykal, the Turkish public
had no idea that the footage taken for the reality show
allegedly came from actionable intelligence supplied by the
US as part of the larger US-Turkish intelligence-sharing
cooperation. Per Baykal, "This is proof the United States is
meddling in our entertainment affairs, imposing cultural
domination, and is using its pressure to influence the
outcome of the show."

3. (U) Budalalik notes that some of the shows have run into
legal problems. The Radio and Television Authority imposed a
30-day ban on "Next Top Headscarf Model" for violating RTUK
regulation 3406.5(b) on lighting requirements. Prime

ANKARA 00000605 002 OF 002


Minister Erdogan has charged that the Kasimpasali Cocuk
character's apparent dull-wittedness is insulting to
residents of that neighborhood, and is trying to amend the
Penal Code to make "insult to the Prime Minister's hometown"
a crime.

4. (U) April Fool! Nisan Budalalik!

Visit Ankara's Classified Web Site at
http://www.intelink.sgov.gov/wiki/Portal:Turk ey

WILSON

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