Discop, the TV market held in Istanbul, has said it has canceled next year’s edition over security concerns in Turkey. The announcement, made via the Discop newsletter, laid clear that the ongoing instability in the country, where there has been a crackdown on media freedoms along with several recent deadly explosions, was the main factor in the decision.
“Turkey is an important strategic territory for television content business, and Istanbul is a great destination, but ongoing geopolitical tensions have had a significant negative impact on this year’s attendance,” said Basic Lead general manager Patrick Zuchowicki. “Four months into the preparations of next year’s edition, we still don’t have a clear indication that the overall perception of these tensions and security issues will improve in the following months. Under such circumstances, it is impossible for our organization to deliver a high-quality, efficient market that the industry expects from Basic Lead.”
Discop execs are hoping to resume the event in 2018. More than 200 people have died in blasts in Istanbul and Ankara in recent months. The Turkish tourism industry is also in crisis. Once the sixth most traveled to country in the world, visitor numbers are expected to be down 40% this year, according to local figures. A diplomatic crisis with former ally Russia over Turkey’s downing of a Russian fighter jet on the border with Syria — and Turkey’s refusal to apologize — is a large factor in that fall. Turkey is also fighting what is called a Kurdish militant insurgency and has also been sucked into the morass that is the Syrian conflict.
A crackdown by the increasingly hardline Turkish government against opposition media outlets has also left many in the country worried over press freedoms. Earlier this year, the headquarters of the Feza Media Group, which publishes Turkey’s largest circulation daily Zaman, was stormed by police and placed under state control. Hundreds of protesters, who had arrived at the paper’s HQ, were dispersed by riot police using tear gas and water cannons. Those events stemmed from the increasingly bitter conflict between one-time allies, the U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AK Party, as part of an anti-corruption probe.
Turkey remains a big and attractive market for both Western and regional film and TV companies. A+E, Sony Pictures TV and Discovery have all launched Turkish-language TV channels. In April, Korean film group CJ-CGV acquired leading Turkish theater chain Mars Cinema in a deal reported to be worth $687 million.