UPDATE: Visit our new Parazit page for the latest info on Saman, Kambiz, and the show.
Washington, D.C., October 6, 2010 - A satirical television show called Parazit has become one of Iran's most popular programs, even though it is broadcast from Washington and produced by the Voice of America.
The 30-minute weekly show, which pokes fun at Iranian officialdom, has a Farsi language Facebook page that now routinely records about 500,000 impressions after each new program is posted. Last month, Parazit's Facebook friends surpassed 100,000 - up from 60,000 just two months earlier. Many viewers also watch the show on satellite dishes, which are illegal in Iran.
Parazit, which means "Static" in English, began in 2009 as a segment within another program on VOA's Persian News Network. By April of 2010, the segment had grown so popular, producers turned it into its own show.
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The host of the show, 35-year-old Iranian-American Kambiz Hosseini, says people respond to the program because it allows them to "laugh at the things that are happening in Iran." Co-creator, Saman Arbabi, says shows are often downloaded to DVD and played at parties.
An independent analyst hired by VOA to critique the program said its "sheer genius" is making Mr. Hosseini a household name in Iran. Azadeh Moaveni, the author of "Lipstick Jihad," said the show's "irrepressible wit, and most importantly…its humor, slang and cultural references" resonate deeply with a majority of 20, 30, or even 40-year-old Iranians.
Tune in Friday for an interview with exiled lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei, who is credited with saving over 50 clients from execution in Iran, including Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the Iranian woman convicted of adultery and sentenced to death by stoning.
Detailed audience numbers on specific programs like Parazit are difficult to obtain in Iran, but despite continuing Iranian efforts to block VOA's satellite and Internet broadcasts, independent audience research shows the programs reach nearly 20-percent of adult Iranians weekly. Many young people find ways around censorship efforts by using proxy servers.
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 125 million people. Programs are produced in 44 languages and are intended exclusively for audiences outside of the United States.
For more information, call VOA Public Relations at (202) 203-4959, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.