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(June 6, 2001) ISTANBUL -- Inspired by the miracle exhibited by millions of Turks living and surviving on a monthly income of $68, Turkish TV producers have created an ironic version of popular reality show Survivor.

Named Living with the Kemal Dervis model, the show breaks this month on Kanal D, part of Turkey's largest media holding company, Dogan Medya Grubu. The show takes its name from the Tukey's Minister of Economy, Kemal Dervis, who was transferred from the World Bank to find a cure for the current financial crisis. Mr. Dervis is seen now as a hero by a major portion of the public.

In the show two people will try to survive on $68 each in separate houses. Their efforts will be broadcasted 24 hours a day on the Internet. Although contestants will not pay rent, they have to go to work, pay for their transport, meals, gas, electricity, water bills, buy a newspaper a day and a book a month and meet up with friends on the weekends -- all on a minimum wage budget. Contestants won't be allowed to accept financial aid or gifts. Those who fail to make ends meet at the end of the month will be eliminated.

Millions of Turkish families are currently forced to eke out a living on minimum wage. According to local economic reports, at least $300 per month is needed for an average family with four people to live above the poverty line. Reports say that the average weekly food bill for a four-member family ranges between $35 and $40 for a well-balanced diet.

According to the Confederation of Turkish Labor Unions, 10 million people live below the poverty line. The monthly income for an average, lower-middle-class Turkish family ranges from $135 to $335. Around 48% of Turkey's population falls in this bracket but their share of the national income is only 32.5%. -- Gurul Ogud

Copyright June 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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