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DoD to Launch Pentagon Channel on Armed Forces Day

By Paul Stone
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 13, 2004 – The Pentagon Channel, the Defense Department's news and information television service, officially launches May 14 with a live broadcast from the Armed Forces Day opening ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base, Md.

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From left, Pentagon Channel anchor Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Jennifer Gray; Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense for internal communication; Gene Brink, the channel's general manager; and anchor Air Force Tech. Sgt. Sean Lehman discuss an upcoming story. The channel, which has up to now been a Pentagon-only communication medium, kicks off its worldwide availability May 14 at the Armed Forces Day Joint Service Open House at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. The channel will be available at U.S. military stations throughout the United States and overseas. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
  

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The Pentagon Channel, which previously existed as an information channel within the Pentagon, will be now be distributed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to all military installations in the United States via domestic satellite, and overseas through the American Forces Radio and Television Service.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Internal Communications Allison Barber described Armed Forces Day as "the perfect day" for launching the Pentagon Channel.

"Armed Forces Day is about recognizing the commitment and sacrifice of our men and women in the military, and we wanted to recognize them by giving them a new and improved tool that will provide them with the news and information they need," Barber said.

Barber explained recent research showed that military members both in the United States and overseas felt that they had adequate access to general news and information, but not enough access to military news.

"The important thing about the Pentagon Channel is it's information specifically geared to the military, and that's what our audience is looking for, because it's relevant, it's credible and it's important to their success."

Barber also pointed out that the operational tempo across the services further demonstrated a need for DoD leaders to be able to talk directly to the military audience, and that expansion was especially important for Guard and Reserve members and their families, who are the most isolated from DoD news and information.

In addition to 24-hour service, the Pentagon Channel is expanding its programming to include several new shows. "Around the Services" features news from each branch of the military. "Studio Five" showcases conversations with DoD leaders on a variety of topics, and "Focus on the Force" highlights military missions such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"What we know to be true with our audience is that they needed more in-depth coverage of military news, so we structured programs to meet that need," Barber said. "'Studio Five' allows us to have an extended conversation with our military audience to explain such issues as pay and benefits or health issues. It will be an effective tool, because it tells the whole story from start to finish."

Pentagon Channel programming also will include top-of-the-hour news updates, broadcasts of the flagship television news magazine programs from each of the services, and DoD news briefings from the Pentagon and around the world.

Down the road, Barber said efforts will focus on expanding content.

"We feel like distribution of the Pentagon Channel is where it should be," she said. "But we will be working on providing more and different types of reporting. We'll be setting up news bureaus around the world, and we'll be embedding teams with the troops to get a first-hand look at their hard work. We're going to be creative and proactive about finding new ways to communicate to our military audience."

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageBrian Hughes, senior master control board operator, dispatches the Pentagon Channel around the world. The Armed Forces Day Joint Service Open House at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., is the backdrop for the channel's May 14 debut as a worldwide communication medium for U.S. military members and their families. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imagePentagon Channel  
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