The Dubai-based MBC Group confirmed on Sunday it had received instructions to remove all Turkish programming until further notice
Netflix will not follow in MBC's footsteps by removing Turkish shows
MBC's decision to remove all Turkish programming has not been replicated by other popular broadcasters in the region.
The Dubai-based MBC Group confirmed on Sunday it had received instructions to remove Turkish shows from all of its channels, including Egypt’s MBC Masr, until further notice.
Online streaming service Netflix told The National on Monday that “MBC’s decision doesn’t affect our programming” but did not comment any further.
Nextflix UAE currently offers almost 20 Turkish programmes, including the 2011 historical drama The Magnificent Century and the 2009 espionage thriller and Gulf smash hit Ezel.
Ezel proved so popular when it first aired in the Arabian Gulf that the show’s cast flew to Dubai for a meet and greet with fans in 2011.
Home-grown online streaming service ICFlix does not currently offer any Turkish content, however. A spokesman told The National that the company had studied the prospect in the past but did not feel Turkish programming “fitted their profile”.
Broadcaster OSN has not yet commented on the MBC move but the decision did not seem to apply to Dubai TV which, according to its online schedule, will continue to screen the drama Sultana Kose five days a week at 9pm.
Turkish soap operas – usually dubbed in the Syrian Arabic dialect – have been big hit across the Middle East for more than a decade. And as Ramadan – the time when television viewership in the region hits an all-time high – nears, fans of the shows will be eager to find out what will replace them.
MBC Group spokesman Mazen Hayek said the move provided an opportunity for programme makers in the region to fill the gap.
"This may be an incentive for Arab producers to create high-level Arabic drama that can be a good alternative to those taken off the air," he said.
Mr Hayek would not comment on who was behind the decision or whether it came from inside or outside of the company.
“There is a decision that concerns several media outlets in many Arab countries that Turkish dramas are to be taken off air, including MBC,” Mr Hayek said. “That was from 1am Saudi Arabian time on March 2.”
MBC’s move saw the immediate removal of six shows, including new crime drama Al Dakheel, which is now paused for MBC viewers on its fifth episode. Meanwhile, fans of the period drama Anta Watani (You Are My Nation) will be frustrated with the show being stuck at its 84th episode.