Turkey’s government is cracking down on regulations for matchmaking shows in the country with an eye to potentially ban the popular daytime programs altogether because they don’t fall in line with Turkish traditions and customs.
According to the country’s Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus some of the dating shows, particularly those geared towards engineering a marriage, are “against our family values, culture, faith and traditions.”
“There are some strange programmes that would scrap the institution of family, take away its nobility and sanctity,” he told a local TV channel in an interview published by Turkish paper the Hürriyet Daily last week.
He added: “They have high ratings and high advertisement revenue because they are so popular.”
Indeed, Turkish dating shows are hugely popular in the region and a staple of daytime television. But recently, programs that include stints that marry couples on the air such as Marriage with Zhulal Topal’la, have prompted a wave of criticism from a wide range of the country’s predominantly Muslim inhabitants.
According to Turkey’s Supreme Board of Radio and Television, which oversees the TV and radio industry, thousands of complaints about the programs have been logged in the last year, with 2016 seeing a 1202% increase in viewer complaints. In 2015, RTUK logged 7,297 complaints while 2016 saw 94,792 logged complaints, prompting heavy fines from RTUK.
“We find rating concerns for TV channels to be normal, but social responsibility should be considered too,” said RTUK President Ilhan Yerlikaya according to the Hürriyet Daily. “High ratings for a program do not prove the quality of the program.”
As it stands, producers of such shows face heavy fines and temporary suspensions lasting up to 10 days if they fail to comply with rules respecting the country’s morals.
On Thursday, RTUK met with officials of national TV channels to discuss potential new regulations and last week, Kurtulmus insisted the regulations were already being drafted.
“We are working on this and we are coming to the end of it,” he said, last week. “God-willing in the near future, we will likely remedy this with an emergency decree.”