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AFRTS Gears Up for Live Super Bowl Telecast

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 4, 2011 – When millions of Americans gather around TV sets this weekend for Super Bowl XLV, they’ll have lots of company from U.S. forces around the world and at sea, thanks to the American Forces Radio and Television Service.

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U.S. Army soldiers gather to enjoy the Super Bowl XVL game between the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers on Forward Operating Base Lightning in Afghanistan's Paktya province, Feb. 7, 2011. U.S. Army photo by Capt. Kenneth A. Stewart

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AFRTS has been delivering the game live since the first big game was played on Jan. 15, 1967.

The full game, including the pre-game show, will be beamed by satellite to American Forces Network viewers and American Forces Radio listeners in 175 countries and aboard Navy ships at sea, said Larry Sichter, affiliate relations chief for the Defense Media Activity’s AFN Broadcast Center in Riverside, Calif.

So as the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers line up at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, for the kickoff at 6:30 p.m. EST Feb. 6, troops in Germany will be cheering them on 30 minutes after midnight on Feb. 7. Service members in Iraq and Afghanistan also will see the kickoff early Feb. 7, at 2:30 a.m. and 4 a.m., respectively. The game begins for troops in Japan and South Korea at 8:30 a.m. Feb. 7.

AFN will re-air the game twice for those who prefer to wait until local prime time rather than watching the game live, Sichter said.

Regardless of where they’re stationed or deployed, everyone who watches the AFN broadcast will see all Super Bowl festivities, including Christina Aguilera’s rendition of the national anthem and the halftime performance by the Black Eyed Peas.

In addition, viewers will see four jets from Carrier Air Wing 7 at Oceana Naval Air Station, Va., zoom over the stadium just before game time. Navy Cmdr. Ben Hewlett will lead the formation of two F/A-18C Hornets, an F/A-18E Super Hornet and an F/A-18F Super Hornet, Navy officials said.

AFRTS taped shout-outs from 32 players -– 17 Packers and 15 Steelers, including quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger –- to air throughout the game, said Paul Waldrop, chief of the AFRTS’ radio and television production office. In addition, messages from Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and five celebrities will run during the broadcast, with all sending words of thanks and encouragement to military members, Waldrop said.

Troops overseas have been treated to live broadcasts of every Super Bowl, initially through short-wave radio broadcasts, Sichter said.

Televised coverage was limited at first to videotape copies of the game distributed after the fact to overseas outlets, unless AFN outlets contracted with commercial networks to get the game live. That all changed in 1982, when AFRTS stood up its satellite network, enabling it to provide live Super Bowl broadcasts to all troops overseas.

“AFN is thrilled to provide an entire day of Super Bowl programming, culminating with the biggest game of the year, live to our service members and their families deployed overseas,” Sichter said. “We are extremely grateful to the National Football League and to Fox Sports for their undying generosity and support in making this television event a reality.”


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Click photo for screen-resolution imageSuper Bowl mania is alive and well in Afghanistan, where members of the 101st Airborne Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team are gearing up to watch the big game live via American Forces Radio and Television Service. Here, Army Sgt. Kali Tackitt, left, and Army Staff Sgt. Todd Christopherson show their conflicting loyalties. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew Graham   
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