Kral Prize Show Causes Controversy

Editor-in-Chief Responds to Critics of 17th Kral Music Awards
Translated by Ali Yildirim

NTV's art slot Gece Gunduz on the controversies surrounding the 17th Kral TV prize show

NTV's art slot on the controversies surrounding the prize show
Turkish news channel NTV's weekly art and culture slot "Gece Gündüz" (Night & Day) aired an interview presented by Yekta Kopan with the editor-in-chief of Kral TV, Mehmet Akbay, to answer some of the criticisms directed at the 17th Kral Music Awards show.

Yekta Kopan: ...I want to move on to the discussions about Kral because there is a lot of talk surrounding the award ceremony. The 17th ceremony is over and some have preferred to call the 17th ceremony the 17th Tarkan Music Awards because Tarkan received a lot of awards from a lot of categories. Let's start from there, and I want to ask you straight off about the sort of things like Tarkan winning those awards but only appearing on stage at the end. It has to be said that because of this there are comments claiming Kral conceded to Tarkan's wishes. What does Mehmet Akbay have to say about this?

Mehmet Akbay: Now Tarkan hadn't made an album for 4 years. The album he released last year in 2010 sold 400,000 copies. For starters, we take sale figures very seriously. Along with that, for example let me say this, during the nominee selection and in the handing out of the awards, let me first explain our criteria if you want. The sale figures, the percentage of downloads on the internet, the radio play numbers as provided by Nielsen, the points awarded by the jury members and finally the public votes - We gave the awards in accordance with these five criteria. And when the public voting started we said that you could only use one SMS from one phone, we said you can only vote once. Later on, we went a step further and scrutinised the 20-day voting period on a day by day basis, where we discovered statistical spikes of organised voting at certain times and deleted those. So we have no doubts at all about the system.

Kopan: Now I don't know if you'll agree Mehmet Akbay - as you've said there are criteria, there is a system that resulted in these results - but we've read about people's criticisms in the entertainment media and local press, like [actress] Hülya Avşar and [actor and comedian] Ata Demirer [who had announced prizes for a no-show Tarkan], could it be that their criticisms are directed more at the evening itself? In whatever way it's been slated... I don't know, let's just say instead of why Tarkan didn't go up to accept all of his awards for example. What do you have to say about that?

Akbay: The awards Tarkan won- The first reactions are always the right ones. Immediately after the award ceremony, we made the main news broadcasts on TV. We hit the headlines in the newspapers the very next day. None of these details came up then. Everyone applauded Tarkan and said that he deserved the awards. The way award ceremonies worked before was that awards were given out to those attending, and not to those that wouldn't attend. Or they would share out awards so no one felt left out.

Kopan: When you mean before, you mean other in ceremonies?

Akbay: Yes, in other ceremonies, and this has happened a few times at Kral TV, too.

Kopan: Is that so?

Akbay: Of course, but we're now a part of the Doğuş Group, and two things come to mind when we say Doğuş Group - quality and trust. We're in the position that we have to follow the Group's standard, we can't just act the way we want to. In other words, this is the way it is in the world, winning seven or eight awards - and there are examples - we have artists that have won eleven awards, and there examples outside of Turkey, too. First and foremost it wasn't us that gave out these awards Yekta; [it was] with the figures and criteria, people fought hard for these awards.

Kopan: For example, [female pop singer] Demet Akalın said that these became [record label DMC head] Samsun Demir's awards [whose record label won the most awards per artist], and she reportedly even went so far as to say something like she wouldn't give her music videos to Kral, maybe you two have spoken about this. Do your comments now possibly answer the concerns expressed, is that right?

Akbay: When we look at what Demet Akalın said or at the comments of the other artists competing in that [Best Female Artist] category, [we see that] Sertab Erener received the award. Looking at the statistics for Sertab Erener, I'm not really the one being criticised here, it's more a case of 'why did she win the award and not me' - but Sertab Erener was the best-selling [female] artist of 2010, the radio statistics are clear, the jury members chose Sertab Erener, when we look at the public votes they said Sertab too, so there was no way we were going to hand out awards to people as we please.

Kopan: I know I keep returning to this point, but in my view the majority of these criticisms are as you say not directed at you really - there are the jury points, and there are the SMS-

Akbay: And not just the public votes Yekta-

Kopan: -so it's really a matter of [number crunching] mathematics - put another way in every award ceremony you can get unwanted results. We both compete for the same award, and that's the way it comes. It goes to you, and not to me. I can understand this, but there are a lot of [other] comments about the evening. I read a lot on Twitter for example, about the playback issue. Why playback, why [are the performances] not live? When Sezen, Sertab, Askin, Levent appeared as a foursome on stage for such an evening, why [did they sing] playback and not live? Were these issues you talked and thought about when you were organising the evening? Did these comments bother you afterwards? What do have to say about that?

Akbay: No, I'm OK with it, but as it's impossible to make last minute changes to such organisations - it's live on air, broadcasting simultaneously to 100 cities, with 3 international stations broadcasting the night live - so to have last minutes changes to the stage arrangements is out of the question. We didn't even give breaks for commercials by the way. We all see how the seats empty when we give breaks, people go out, and we wanted it to be a fast and speedy event. And when we got a request from our artists on the matter of playback, we thought it very right and reasonable. But for instance, I really wanted everyone to make the point about Tarkan coming to an award ceremony and competing for the first time after so many years, and how we were all so moved by Sezen Aksu singing with Aşkın Nur Yengi, Sertab Erener and Levent Yüksel - and it was the first time, for such an organisation, that Orhan Gencebay took to the stage to sing, even though it was playback. I think these things should have been discussed.

Kopan: I'm sure these are being discussed, but with such award ceremonies you have to listen to what everyone is saying whether you want to or not-

Akbay: Of course...

Kopan: -and one of these comments was about [actress] Müjde Ar coming already prepared [dressed up as her late mother to pick up best song lyrics prize]-

Akbay: Yes...

Kopan: -which gave rise to comments about whether she knew beforehand she was getting the award - for [her mother] Aysel Gürel.

Akbay: Let me just say this...

Kopan: For those watching Müjde Ar it seemed - and let me just say hi to her from here - but did she know beforehand?

Akbay: It's like this, it isn't just an awards ceremony Yekta, it's a show as well, a television show. So a few days beforehand we laid out the statistics in front of us - the results were in, we got the points from the jury. And for the sake of the show we told Tarkan about [winning the prize for] the year's best song, but only the year's best song mind you - I want to make it very clear no information was given on the other awards at all - because the song of the year is going to be sung at the finale, it's tradition as the final song. When Tarkan told us he was going to attend, Tarkan was told that he was going to get the award for the best song of the year by a large margin, going on the public votes, points from the jury, from the radios, and sale figures. I say this with all honesty because Tarkan came a day before to rehearse, but only one award, apart from the best song -

Kopan: No other information was given at all apart from that-

Akbay: No other information, no way, and not to Müjde Ar either. I can't say it any more clearer that that. Müjde Ar was not informed, but everyone came prepared for any possibility.

Kopan: Müjde Ar never goes anywhere without being well prepared, that's known-

Akbay: Yes, these people are professionals-

Kopan: Other questions that come to mind, and I'm especially asking questions that have popped up in the social media, but ultimately from all these comments from Hülya Avşar to-

Akbay: I just want to say-

Kopan: Excuse me - when we look at the social media, what is the most upsetting thing for Mehmet Akbay about the 17th music awards? In other words is there any comment that you wished would not have been made? Or do you find this all very natural?

Akbay: In all honesty, about the organisation - the lack of RSVP from guests, people coming who weren't invited, about mistakes we did make front stage - I am real sorry about those issues. And I said at the evening that I hope we do get criticised because of Tarkan, because the issue of Tarkan, the show, Sezen Aksu, the evening's performances, the distribution of the awards - these are issues we stand behind the most.

Kopan: I'm sorry to say we've come to the end of our time...

Akbay: Let me just say this quickly to round up, it's really important-

Kopan: Of course...

Akbay: As to why Tarkan only appeared at the end - you asked me this earlier and I didn't give the answer. Tarkan requested to surprise everyone and be the last to come out. It's a surprise. It's a show. And we thought it right. And we agreed. We said we'll act as though Tarkan isn't here, and at the last moment for the year's most important award - the best song of the year award - without even announcing his name, we'll suddenly lift the stage... this is a surprise, there was no way any disrespect was intended [to those celebrities presenting the prizes] - I know Tarkan, and I've spoken with him, such a thing is out of the question. It's a misunderstanding, in my opinion it's just an issue of [others] egging people on.

Kopan: Thank you very much, because we've come to the end of our allotted time I have to thank you real quickly. We wanted to get answers first-hand for these discussions that have been ongoing for days [and] Kral TV's editor-in-chief, Mehmet Akbay responded. Of course it's going to be discussed, these are good arguments to have, and we'll [be here] to argue the 18th event too-

Akbay: Can I just say something quickly - first reactions are always the right ones. We all saw the paper and TV headlines straight after the award ceremony, and we are really pleased about them.

Kopan: We'll speak about this on the 18th event too, we've come to the end of Night & Day. Good bye.

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