Leading Greek channel scraps Turkish series over Hagia Sophia reconversion

Leading Greek TV channel ANT1 has cancelled Turkish series from its programming over Ankara’s move to reconvert Istanbul’s iconic Hagia Sophia monument into a mosque, the Greek City Times reported on Wednesday.

The network airing in Greece and Cyprus has cancelled plans for a drama series from the neighbouring country, ANT1 Chief Content Officer George Pofantis said, without specifying which show it was.

On July 10, Turkey met a long-time demand of Turkish Islamists by converting the 6th-century Hagia Sophia - the former seat of the Orthodox Christian Church - into a mosque. The move has been met with international condemnation, particularly in Greece, which has threatened Ankara with sanctions.

Over the past 15 years, Greek channels have broadcast 55 Turkish series, showcasing “ideal images of a fantastic European Turkey that looks like a real paradise”, Greek City Times quoted Leonidas Koumakis of the International Hellenic Association as saying.

But Greeks are now finding themselves watching “indifferently through the receivers of our television the spiritual castration of the Greek society in order for a few channel masters to make profit,” the International Hellenic Association said.

The association pointed to what it called Ankara’s “neo-Ottoman expansion” of the Cypriot Economic Exclusion Zone and military involvement in the war-torn countries of Syria and Libya.

Turkey is one of the largest exporters of TV series in the world, particularly receiving great interest in the Middle East, Balkans and South America. Turkey’s revenue made from TV series exports amounted to $500 million in 2018 alone, according to state-run Anadolu news agency.

The latest move by ANT1 signals that Turkish series are finally being removed from Greek television, the Greek City Times said.


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