Better, faster: AFN upgrades since 1990s significant
November 11, 2007
The American Forces Radio and Television Service, which operates from a broadcast center in Riverside, Calif., at one time only provided one channel to each broadcasting station.
Programming was distributed on videotape through weekly shipments passed along a chain of stations and, typically, entertainment programs were at least six months old.
AFRTS stations could produce their own national and international newscasts using wire copy from teletype machines and stories from contracted services such as ABC, CBS, NBC and ITN.
In 1982, however, SATNET came online and allowed same-day newscasts and live sports.
Kyle Hammitt, director of media for AFN Tokyo at Yokota, said the expansion of services to today’s multi-channel lineup took several years.
The initial increase, which occurred in the mid- to late 1990s, included the creation of channels for primary entertainment, news and sports.
A worldwide capability was available, but officials wanted to air shows in prime time, so they split the primary channel into AFN-Prime Pacific and AFN-Prime Atlantic for separate geographic audiences.
There are now eight choices across the Pacific as AFN has added a movie channel, family channel, Spectrum and Xtra in the past few years.
“Each provides programming that tries to cater to specific segments of the viewing audience,” Hammitt said. “It also gives the broadcast center the flexibility to air popular series programs for a full season that wouldn’t otherwise fit on the prime channels.”