New AFRTS Movie, Family Channels Debut In September
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 26, 2004 The Defense Department's American Forces Network television system will start broadcasting new movie and family channels to overseas audiences Sept. 3.
The new channels -- made possible by new satellite technology -- will enhance choices for servicemembers and their families stationed overseas, said Air Force Lt. Col. Doug Smith, operations officer at American Forces Radio and Television Service headquarters in Alexandria, Va.
"The Family Channel is something we've been wanting to do for a very long time," Smith said, noting that programming content will be targeted to children ages 2-17.
The Movie Channel, he continued, will offer "the best of Hollywood" films, with behind-the-scenes specials detailing how some popular movies were made.
For years, Smith noted, the American Forces Radio and Television Service has provided news, sports, and entertainment -- as well as Defense Department- specific programming -- to troops and families stationed overseas. The new channels, he said, will fill "a couple of niches" previously unavailable to audiences.
AFRTS, Smith said, provides policy guidance for American Forces Network, DoD's television and radio broadcasting programmer. The overseas audience, he noted, currently numbers about 850,000 people.
Larry Sichter, AFN's affiliate relations chief at the Defense Media Center at March Air Reserve Base near Riverside, Calif., noted that AFN provides 10 television services and 12 radio services to 180 ships at sea and to servicemembers and families stationed in 177 countries.
"Our audience get the most popular programming that's in the states, and, they have a lot of choice," Sichter said.
This spring the Pentagon Channel began broadcasting military news programs, Pentagon news conferences and congressional hearings featuring senior DoD leaders to servicemembers stationed overseas 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The Pentagon Channel also is available to stateside military bases for airing on installation cable systems or to anyone wishing to receive it via satellite. To request Pentagon Channel service, visit the channel's Web site.