While Israel and Turkey have full diplomatic ties and Israeli tourists flock to the secular Muslim state, apparently Israeli businesses are not so welcome there. Discop Istanbul format canceled a pitching session in Istanbul just to prevent Israeli firms from presenting their television programs for sale.
When Israeli production companies Gil Productions and Armoza Formats were ready to make their presentations the event’s organizers called it a day without hearing from them.
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Israel and Turkey have had a strained relationship in recent years.
Launched in 2010, Discop Istanbul gives content producers a chance to pitch their series for international marketing. A slew of Israeli programs have been sold and remade as new programs around the world in recent years. Most notable of which is the award winning American show Homeland. The formats of Israeli game shows are also now being sold around the world.
But this year’s event was sponsored by Saudi Arabian company Rotana Holdings and there were several Arab judges present who did not wish to hear from an Israeli company. So what happened was not exactly the fault of the Turkish government or people.
Ilanit Hirsch, head of distribution for Tel Aviv-based Gil Productions, was there and ready to pitch when the judges walked out. She told C21 Media, “The Discop organizer was very embarrassed about it. I asked what the problem was and they told me that the judges on the panel had decided not to participate due to the fact that I was from Israel”
“I was embarrassed as well. She told me this was not personal, it’s political. She asked if I wanted to cancel. I said I did not but told her that it bothered me that politics were coming into television.”
“I didn’t take it personally, but this is not the way showbiz should work, ” Hirsch added. “From what I understand, Patrick was trying to convince them to make the panel work but it didn’t happen. The other participants were very upset as well.”