AFN's New 'Niche' Programming Begins Sept. 3
By Samantha L. Quigley
National Guard Bureau
WASHINGTON, Sept. 2, 2004 TV junkies overseas, rejoice!
In the planning for a couple of years, American Forces Network is set to launch more than 400 hours of programming at 7 a.m. local time Friday in Europe and the Pacific, said Mel Russell, director of the American Forces Radio and Television Service.
Two channels will be added to the existing lineup, and one will be tweaked. But have no fear of having to surf to find your favorites, Russell said. The existing channel numbers will stay the same, while two will be added.
The two new channels, AFN Family and AFN Movie will be added in response to a reader survey indicating an interest in that type of programming.
"We do surveys on a regular basis, and our last big worldwide survey we did identified these two types of programming that the audience wanted most," Russell said. "A full-time movie channel and a full-time channel that was family-friendly, if you will, that you could turn to anytime and you were comfortable with your family watching it."
AFN Family will pull programming from multiple sources, such as Nickelodeon and other sources that have family-friendly programming. The lineup will target the pre-school set in the morning and early afternoon, teens in late afternoon and switch to offerings for the entire family in the evening.
AFN promises a wide variety of feature films and specials with fewer interruptions. Also, there will be programs that give viewers insight into the entertainment industry.
"The movie channel fills that void for people who just like wall-to-wall movies," Russell said. "Each night in primetime we will air two full-run movies. On Saturday we will premiere a blockbuster movie."
AFN Spectrum is not a new channel, but might seem that way to viewers. Spectrum's old eight-hour format is history and will be replaced by 24-hour programming appropriate for regional time zones, Russell said. New technology and equipment has allowed the split feed to accommodate the continuous programming in both theaters.
"We will split the feed so that the European audience and the Pacific audience will have their own time-shifted programming on Family, Movie and Spectrum, so that if you expect to see five nights a week Law & Order at 7 p.m., you will see that in our theaters."
With the additions and the changes, AFN viewers will be receiving more than 1,100 hours of programming per week. The additions and changes account for more than 400 of those hours, Russell said adding that viewers will now have seven unique programming products to choose from: AFN Family, Movie, Spectrum, Prime, Sports, News and the Pentagon Channel.
The Defense Media Center is located on March Air Reserve Base near Riverside, Calif. AFN is available in 177 countries where U.S. forces are stationed, and will include Iraq and Afghanistan.