Politicians and artists in Pakistan fear a cultural invasion by Turkish TV. Adil Jawad of the Associated Press says that the rising popularity of Turkish soap operas in Pakistan has threatened the South Asian nation’s conservative Islamic values. Actresses in many of the Turkish soap operas appear in miniskirts and show cleavages. That’s far beyond the level of acceptance in Pakistan, where most women wear Shalwar Kameez.
The Turkish TV shows have taken the nation by storm. Pakistani TV operators prefer Turkish shows because they can be purchased at much lower price than the cost of producing a Pakistani drama. For example, Pakistani TV channels pay around $2,500 to broadcast one episode of a Turkish soap opera. But producing one episode of a Pakistani show costs more than $10,000. Also, Turkish dramas have more elaborate sets and costumes.
Apart from costs and costumes, there are several other things that ensured the success of Turkish drama serials in Pakistan. Hum TV senior vice-president Athar Waqar Azeem says fresh content, new faces and beautiful locations attract people in the country.
Pakistani politicians are concerned about the cultural invasion by Turkish TV shows. Late last year, a Senate committee that oversees information and broadcasting said that Turkish soap operas could harm the country’s TV industry. Also, their content doesn’t fit into Pakistan’s cultural norms. Javeria Abbasi, a popular Pakistani TV actress, says that people don’t accept a Pakistani actress wearing a miniskirt, but Turkish actresses in those same costumes are gaining popularity.
Like Pakistan, Turkey is also a Muslim country. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister of Turkey, is also worried about the content of Turkish TV serials. In the past, he has accused the producer of the popular show “Mera Sultan” of playing with the country’s values. The Supreme Court in Pakistan is also concerned about the “obscenity” of TV shows that are mostly produced in India and Turkey. The popularity of Indian TV shows and Bollywood movies in Pakistan has harmed the country’s cinema industry.
Turkey exports TV shows to more than 20 countries. According to the Oxford Business Group, the country earned over $60 million by exporting more than hundred TV shows in 2011.