Top Turkish TV soap rebuked over 'erotic' kiss

ISTANBUL (AFP) - Turkey's media watchdog has rebuked one of the country's most popular soap operas for a passionate kissing scene deemed excessively erotic, reports said on Friday.

The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTUK) took issue with a prolonged embrace between Elif and Omer, the main protagonists of the hit soap Kara Para Ask (Black Money Love).

The watchdog will meet in the coming weeks to decide what action to take, which is likely to involve a fine, the Hurriyet daily said.

Turkish soaps have in the last years become the country's most successful cultural exports, generating huge audiences in the Balkans and Middle East with series which often consist of up to 50 movie-length episodes.

However, romantic scenes rarely stray beyond the conventional, and while kissing is filmed it is rarely more than a peck on the lips.

But the RTUK took issue with a realistic and passionate scene in Kara Para Ask, where Elif and Omer suck and bite each other's lips.

"Here is a scene that goes one or two steps beyond just kissing, a scene shown in great detail and length and which is pure eroticism," the watchdog was quoted as saying.

It explained: "Rather than love, the concept of eroticism refers to nudity and behavioural rituals, such as kissing and lovemaking, that come before nudity and makes the transition to sex possible."

The wordy report by the regulator bizarrely quotes from a book by US kissing guru William Cane, The Art Of Kissing, to describe the embrace shown in the scene as "lip-o-suction".

The Black Money Love series, which features megastar Turkish actress Tuba Buyukustun, has been hailed by critics as one of the most artistically ambitious Turkish soaps in recent years.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) co-founded by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has long been accused by critics of seeking to impose its Islamic morality on Turkey's officially secular society.

The issue has long been divisive in a complex society where many adhere to conservative Muslim values while others aspire to a Western way of living.

In a new sign of the concerns about explicit displays of sexuality in Turkish media, a leading channel blocked out female breasts in a series about great world art.

The buttocks and the breasts of the women portrayed in the paintings the Three Graces by Rubens and the Three Graces Dancing by Canova were smudged out in the show broadcast by CNN-Turk.

The host of the show told viewers while presenting the pictures that the channel had reluctantly decided not to show the breasts as it feared a reaction from the regulator if they were shown.

"Normally I am against all kinds of censorship but here you see that breasts have been subjected to censorship," said host Emin Capa.

"These are the most famous art works in the world. But we cannot show them to you because of the pressure from RTUK."