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Persian News Network Launches Interactive Program, 'Straight Talk'

Youth-oriented program examines topics in-depth

Washington, D.C., May 4, 2009 - Voice of America's (VOA) Persian News Network (PNN) today introduced a new interactive television program which aims to promote engagement and interaction between Iranians and Americans.

Roya Khat (Straight Talk), which airs Monday through Friday at 1730 UTC (10:00 p.m. local Iranian time), will look at a topic of great interest to a youthful audience for an entire week, examining it in-depth, from different angles. Accomplished guests may discuss science, technology, social issues, the environment, politics, economics, art or culture. News on the United States and information about the lives of Americans will also be featured.

For its debut week, Roya Khat focuses on press freedom, highlighting World Press Freedom Day. Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi participated live from Atlanta in today's program, discussing media restrictions and censorship in Iran.

Regarding the show's format, host Mehdi Falahati said, "Subjects will be designed to generate debate and will be very interactive. The audience is expected to play a major role, contributing and voting on topics of interest through our website, e-mails, SMS, blogs and phone calls to the show."

Before joining VOA's PNN last year, Falahati was previously a freelance reporter for the British Broadcasting Corporation's (BBC) Persian service and also served as chief London correspondent, senior editor, and broadcaster for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's (RFE/RL) Radio Farda. He has published ten books in Persian in Iran and abroad, including one featuring 50 interviews with prominent Iranian authors, politicians, poets and intellectuals.

VOA's PNN has the largest combined radio and television audience of all international broadcasters in Iran, with one in four adult Iranians tuning in to a VOA show at least once a week. VOA's PNN broadcasts seven hours of television daily, repeated in a 24-hour format, and five hours of radio. Broadcasts are available round-the-clock on the Internet at

The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. Government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts approximately 1,500 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 134 million people. Programs are produced in 45 languages.

For more information, call VOA Public Relations at (202) 203-4959, or e-mail