Azerbaijan Bans Foreign TV Series
Looks like Azerbaijan has moved from censoring news to censoring fiction. A May 1 prohibition on broadcasts of foreign TV series and films has put the kibosh on everything from Latin American tearjerker epics to HBO dramas.
The proponents of the ban ( which will not apply to this month's Eurovision Song Contest) say it will help improve audiences' moral values and lend a hand to Azerbaijan's own television film industry, which received 5 million manats (about $6.36 million) from the government to get its creative juices flowing.
Non-complying stations may face sanctions from the broadcasting regulator. Most of the television channels immediately yanked foreign series from their programming, however. That meant that many soap opera fans were forced to go cold turkey in the middle of the television season.
“I’ve been going through all the twists and turns together with the [series] characters. I feel that the characters are like members of my family,” sighed one Azerbaijani homemaker in her comments to Mir24 TV. “I think that without the television series, my life will become empty and boring.”
Like thousands of other viewers, she might have to opt for a satellite dish or cable. Or just head to Baku.
Despite the ban on foreign TV series, the Turkish TV drama "Avrupa, Avrupa" ("Europe, Europe") soon will be filming one of its episodes ("Azerbaijani Adventure") in the Azerbaijani capital, Turkey's state-run Anatolia news agency reported.
Apparently, the ban only applies to watching TV series; not filming them. Or something like that. Being the pick of a Turkish-Azerbaijani parliamentary friendship club probably didn't hurt, either.
Giorgi Lomsadze is a journalist based in Tbilisi, and author of Tamada Tales.
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