"We have stopped airing the Turkish drama on the different channels of MBC, including MBC 1, MBC 4 and MBC Drama," said Mazen Hayek, MBC spokesperson. Image Credit: Courtesy: Annahar

Dubai: MBC, the region’s biggest pan-Arab satellite network has decided to stop airing Turkish drama series starting from last Friday, an MBC spokesperson told Gulf News.

No official announcement was made, but viewers noticed the halt of several Turkish series.

There was also no formal explanation for the move. However, it seems it was aimed to put an end to nearly 11 years of promoting Turkey’s image in the region.

The Saudi-owned channel’s move comes amid sizzling Arab-Turkish tension over several political issues.

“Starting from March 2nd at 1am Saudi Time ( 2am Dubai time), We have stopped airing the Turkish drama on the different channels of MBC, including MBC 1, MBC 4 and MBC Drama,” said Mazen Hayek, MBC spokesperson.


“The decision involved 6 series, and we replaced them with other Arab and Gulf content, while we are looking for other replacement in the short, medium and long term.”

Hayek continued “let this decision be an incentive for all of us to produce more premium content Arab drama to broadcast it across the board on our airways.”

Such a decision should enhance Arab production of dramas, the allocation of budgets for production and marketing, as well as hiring writers and directors to produce dramas that surpass the quality and standards of Turkish soaps, he said.

High cost

The average cost of producing one Turkish drama episode is $250,000 (918,000 dirhams) compared to Arab drama spending which ranges anywhere from $40,000-$100,000 per episode, according to producers.

MBC was the first to introduce Turkish soap operas dubbed in classical and colloquial Arabic to the Arab audience when it began in 2007.

The dramas were so popular that Arab tourism to Turkey increased as a result.

One of the most popular Turkish soaps “Noor” garnered nearly 92 million viewers in the Arab world during the series finale.

Time magazine has described the export of Turkish soap operas as “Erdogan’s secret” while Turkish media has touted that such dramas boost Turkey’s soft power in the region.

Arab-Turkish relations today are currently mired by Turkey’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood and its meddling in the region.