Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Letters from Egypt: Who's Winning the TV Ratings

This week in the Middle East, the battle was on to see just who will win the top TV spot as competition continues to get steep. While Egypt garnered top slots during prime time TV, it has, until recently, fallen behind in ratings. However, don’t count them out of the running yet.

Last week, we saw Syria climbing the charts with security forces continuing their clamp down. In order to keep viewership up, Syria will play host to Russia this week that is sure to keep some of you on the edge of your seats wondering, “Why Russia?”

Not to be outdone, Libya TV shifted gears and showcased a heartfelt story of one Ukrainian nurse’s heroic tale depicting the main star of the hit show, Qaddafi, as simply “daddy.” The story line showed writer diversification, trying to distinguish it from competitors like Syria and Yemen, with a softer side. She recounted, “Daddy gave us jobs, money and a good life.” Certainly hope you avid Libya viewers weren’t eating during this episode as I can’t imagine you kept your popcorn down or drink from spewing from your nose.

Source: AP
Meanwhile, Egypt has been falling behind, but the creators of the once-upon-a-time hit TV show amped up their efforts to gain international attention. Writer Mohamed el-Mohamed told me, “We sat down and thought, ‘alright, we’ve got to do something about this, we cannot let Libya, Syria and Yemen beat us again for the eighth or so consecutive week.’” And thus, the idea to write into the script… drumroll please… an attack on the Israeli embassy. To add an even greater element of excitement, trapping six Israeli guards in the building kept viewers on the edge of their seats.

And just what is Egypt doing to try to hold its top position in international TV ratings? This week the show will have a special guest. Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will make an appearance on the show. However, inside sources say that he will further the storyline of standing against Israel. In a rallying effort, Erdogan is said to be believed to give a speech that will push momentum which could see future episodes of more anti-Israeli acts by Egypt. With this latest script change in Egypt TV, it is sure to pull in even more ratings from places like the US and UK. Grab your popcorn and ho-ho’s now. However, something tells me this storyline will get played out and then what will Egypt do to climb back up the rating chart? Go to work? Now that would be an interesting episode.

Showing Egyptians working would offer an element of humor and surprise. el-Mohamed added: "Listen, showing Egyptians getting geared for a peaceful, semi-transparent election or even creating a plan of action toward the constitutional process would be too expected. We're out to get ratings and the best way we can do this is by flexing our pens to create a script that will entice the viewers and Israel has proven to be the best route to edge out our competitors."

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