VOA Show to Iran Surges in Popularity, Creators Invited on

The creators of a Voice of America TV program broadcast to Iran called “Parazit,” which has drawn comparisons to “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” are to appear on Stewart’s Comedy Central show Thursday to discuss their program’s satirical look at Iranian politics and politicians.

Audiences can’t seem to get enough of the Farsi language program, which airs for 30 minutes every Friday and is produced at VOA’s Persian News Network (PNN) headquarters in Washington and sent by satellite directly to Iranian homes.

Last month, about 19 million people went to Parazit’s Facebook page to catch the irreverent humor of host and writer Kambiz Hosseini and Saman Arbabi the co-creator and executive producer, who in the past three weeks have been profiled by the Washington Post, CNN International, and National Public Radio.

VOA Director Danforth W. Austin says he is “not surprised” by the attention Parazit (it means “static” in English) is getting. He says, “The show resonates with people in Iran, because it talks about issues and policies that are not discussed in the government-controlled media, and it does so in an entertaining, humorous way.”

Despite Iranian government efforts to block the VOA website and satellite signal, Iranians find ways to see the weekly program, most notably via the internet with proxy servers and through social media sites like Facebook and YouTube.

Since October, the number of Parazit’s Facebook friends has doubled to nearly a quarter-million. The number of page views to the show’s Facebook site also nearly doubled to nearly 19 million from about ten million in October.

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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 123 million people.  Programs are produced in 44 languages and are intended exclusively for audiences outside of the United States.

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