Al-Monitor – Millions of Iranian viewers had to spend a Monday night without “90,” a wildly popular soccer show hosted by Adel Ferdowsipour, who is widely believed to have kept Iranians tuned to a national broadcaster that has been grappling with a serious audience crisis.
Ferdowsipour’s debate-oriented program was starkly different from conventional Iranian TV shows, breaking away from common clichés and formalities. The show has uncovered rampant corruption, nepotism, mafias and more in the world of Iranian soccer — topics that might have otherwise remained hidden from the eyes of the common viewer.
The challenging face-to-face program put its guests in the hot seat, making them address accusations and face furious fans. Not only soccer enthusiasts were drawn to the open nature of the show, which would often continue well past midnight. Many young Iranians have stories about late arrivals at work on Tuesdays, having stayed up late to watch the raucous debates.
But ever since the paramilitary Basij Organization’s Ali Foroughi, the new hard-line director of the national broadcaster’s Channel 3, took the helm last year, rumors circulated that the time had come for Ferdowsipour to leave the show he created, developed and took to the pinnacle of popularity.
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