- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- All Balkan Countries
Kosovo’s domestic soaps are falling victim to cheap imports from Turkey and Latin America.
Kosovo’s three main television stations – KTV, RTV 21 and the public broadcaster RTK – have all but one abandoned investing in locally produced shows.
The only local show currently being aired on terrestrial television is “Kafeneja Jone”, Our Cafe, shown on RTK once a week.
Even a show with a huge audience, such as RTK’s Familja Moderne, Modern Family in English, was dropped in the summer of 2011. RTK said this was due to a lack of funding.
“RTK cut our broadcast without warning,” Visare Aliu, director of Modern Family, said.
“They just told us that because of the lack of a budget they could no longer support the series.”
While television executives argue that foreign shows are cheaper and more popular than local productions, Kosovar scriptwriters suspect the profit motive is the only factor at play.
Meanwhile, Latin American and Turkish soaps are invading the schedules, offering cheaper alternatives to home-grown shows and according to TV executives, attracting more advertising.
Among the invaders is Turkish serial “Sulltani i Madherishem”, Sultan the Magnificent, broadcasted on RTV 21, and “Lala”, broadcast on KTV.
“The main reason why we don’t broadcast local serials is to do with finances,” Kastriot Sahatqija of KTV said.
“We don’t have enough money to support those shows. Maybe RTK can, because the government funds its budget.”
|Sultan the Magnificent|
He added that the public generally prefers foreign series anyway: “Viewers are more interested in foreign shows from Turkey and elsewhere. We know this because we get more advertising for them.”
Blerim Ajeti, who is responsible for shows at RTV 21, also claims that the public prefers foreign series, as is the case across the region.
“We haven’t received any good offers from any local producers to encourage us to finance their work and, in addition, audiences like foreign serials more,” Ajeti said.
On the other hand, local scriptwriter Arian Krasniqi believes that audiences are being forced to watch foreign soaps, rather than there being an especially strong demand for them.
Shows commissioned - and then axed:
At the beginning of 2011, RTK opened a public tender to find new locally produced programmes.
Three series - two dramas and a comedy - were picked, “Qyteti pa Lum”, City without a River, “Shtepia Ime”, My House, and “Lagjia e Re”, New Neighbourhood.
But when their first contracts with RTK ran out the shows were axed. In the meantime, in late 2011 the government had cut the RTK budget.
“The reason why we didn’t continue with the series had to do with the budget being cut by 2.7 million euro,” Bekim Hasani, programme director at RTK, recalled.
Ilir Kabashi, director of “Qyteti pa Lum”, who produced 27 episodes, says the problem was not only financial; Kosovo television producers don’t really want to support local production, he maintains.
“These television stations should be promoting and supporting local shows,” he says.
“It would be better to present our [Albanian] good and bad aspects through such series rather than promoting unimportant cultural aspects of various other countries,” Kabashi adds.
Lirak Qelaj, a scriptwriter for “Lagja e Re”, believes that local productions are more popular than they are given credit for.
He has never received any viewing figures for his show, but says that when it was broadcast the feedback was excellent.
“The main problem here has to do with money,” he said. “To make a local series is completely different from buying a series from abroad.
“The Kosovo TV budget cannot support us financially and we can’t find other sponsors, which may have to do with the economic crisis that Kosovo is dealing with,” he said.
Audience figures absent:
Blerim Ajeti, from RTV 21, says his station hasn’t conducted market research on the sizes of audiences of shows.
“But we know that the public wants more foreign shows because of the advertising that we get during their transmission time,” Ajeti added.
Kastriot Sahatqija, of KTV, said that his station also has no audience figures.
“We haven’t done any surveys but there are two reasons why we don’t transmit local series,” he says. “One is that local series are more expensive than foreign ones, and other is that KTV gets benefits more from foreign series, because during transmission we get more advertising, which means profits.”
Luan Morina, who runs website called telekomanda.com, which monitors television in Kosovo, agrees.
He carries out surveys based on the number of comments he receives on a particular programme.
“Turkey’s ‘Lala’, on KTV, is very popular with audience. People love this show,” he says. “They love also ‘Sulltan, on RTV-21.”
“Kafeneja Jone”, broadcast on RTK, remains the most popular locally produced show.
Light at the end of the cable:
But while terrestrial TV is pulling out, Kujtesa, one of the country’s main cable providers, is stepping in.
|"Amkademiku" screened in Kujtesa|
This year it launched three Albanian series, “Kombinati”, “Andrrat”, and “Amkademiku”. The cast of “Kombinati” are mostly from the now defunct “Familija Moderne”.
Arber Arifi, director of Kutjesa in Kosovo, said that he is interested in local shows, as audiences still love them.
He admits they can be costly.
“It is expensive, because you need to finance a large group,” he says.
“There are not just actors; there are a lot of staff working on a series. But it’s worth it because we see that our clients love these shows.”
This article is funded under the BICCED project, supported by the Swiss Cultural Programme.
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