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Ramadan TV programs trump World Cup in Turkey

Ramadan TV programming in Turkey has changed significantly over the last decade with not only culinary shows on offer but also interactive US-style preacher TV shows.
People prepare to break their fast on the first day of the holy month of Ramadan as police officers stand guard at near Taksim Square in Istanbul June 28, 2014. REUTERS/Osman Orsal (TURKEY - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST RELIGION) - RTR3W810

Every year Ramadan comes to Turkish television with a mix of tradition and new twists. In the past, Ramadan TV shows were not profitable and only available on a few channels. Over the last decade, Ramadan preparations have taken place amid a heated debate about the salaries of prominent preachers and singers of nasheed ilahi (Islamic songs) on Ramadan TV shows.

Nihat Hatipoglu, the most popular preacher, was rumored to be receiving 600,000 Turkish lira (over $300,000) for 30 episodes of his now trademark TV program. For the last couple of years, he has been a popular figure who several national TV channels competed to have. Hatipoglu appears live on both iftar (breaking of the fast at sunset) and sahur (breakfast before dawn) programming on the same channel. Secular or observant audiences are surprised to learn “preaching” on TV could be so lucrative. Quite a few tweets on how “rich” preachers’ televised advice on “blessed are the meek” has generated a debate in society, while many viewers are thrilled to catch a glimpse of these preachers on live TV.

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