Pentagon Channel Adds New Markets, More Growth Expected
By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 21, 2005 The Pentagon Channel, a Defense Department news and information service, has added two new television markets to its audience.
Earlier this month, Cox Communications affiliate stations in Gulf Coast, Fla., and Oklahoma City added the Pentagon Channel's programming to their line-up.
"The Department of Defense is appreciative to Cox for their commitment to our men and women in the military," said Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense for internal communications and public liaison. "Carrying the Pentagon Channel provides vital information and communication to our military audience living in the these local communities."
Still, the Pentagon Channel hopes to reach even more military audiences.
"The ultimate goal is to let servicemembers watch the Pentagon Channel whenever and regardless of wherever they are," said Maxine Teller, director of commercial distribution for the channel. Teller is responsible for getting the station on cable and satellite systems throughout the country.
To date, the Pentagon Channel is available on about 215 military installations in the United States and reaches more than 1 million servicemembers. Another 12 million viewers receive the program through local cable and DISH Network satellite service, Teller said.
The station's programming is broadcast to military members overseas via the American Forces Radio and Television Service. "So if you really want Pentagon Channel, you can get us no matter where you are," Teller said.
Teller said that much of her efforts are focused on getting the channel placed on networks outside military bases. "Half of the military audience is Guard and Reservists who are not on base every day," she added. A challenge with doing so is that many stations have "little bandwidth or no channel capacity" to carry additional programming, she said.
"There is only so much space in which to put channels," she pointed out. "We're competing with every other channel out there: Discovery, HBO and every station you can imagine."
To that end, she now looks to Public Education channels that offer free access, where programming is often included with a basic cable subscription.
"There are more people that have basic cable, so if we can get on that basic tier we are much happier," she said. "The problem is they won't give us the whole channel -- only a piece. So if we only get four hours of Pentagon Channel programming, that's great, but it's not phenomenal. But if it's the only way to reach an audience, then I'll take it."
Still, Teller has had great success with getting the station on cable networks around the country. She said most cable providers see the Pentagon Channel as a "huge value to their customers" and are "very interested" in its programming.
Of all the cable and satellite companies she has contacted, only one responded negatively, she said. "And I think that person was just having a bad day."
The Pentagon Channel's programming includes "Around the Services," a daily half-hour program featuring news from top Defense officials and military services around the world; "Pentagon Channel Reports," which airs Defense Department news updates; and "Studio Five," weekly interviews with Defense Department leaders on top issues.
Other popular programs featured include: "Freedom Journal Iraq," which highlights military operations by U.S. forces there; "America Supports You," a campaign highlighting corporate and volunteer support for servicemembers and their families; and "Why I Serve," a program in which servicemembers share stories of why they joined the military.
The Pentagon Channel is a public-domain broadcast accessible 24 hours a day to all cable and satellite providers in the United States. There is no fee for cable companies to broadcast the channel.