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In less than four weeks, AFN-TV will launch two new channels geared to movies and family viewing, though at first they will be used to provide expanded coverage of the Summer Olympic Games in Greece, officials said.

The addition of AFN-Family and AFN-Movie to the lineup will give the American Forces Radio and Television Service nine channels, not counting the program menu. In addition, AFRTS plans to revamp AFN-Spectrum, making it the place to click to for educational and syndicated shows.

But for the immediate future, the two new channels will give AFRTS room to offer more Olympic coverage than ever before. The Olympics will run from Aug. 13-29.

Larry Sichter, the chief of affiliate relations for the Defense Media Center, which is part of AFRTS, estimated that AFN would carry more than 600 hours of Olympic events. NBC and its sister networks — MSNBC, CNBC, USA and Bravo — plan to provide around-the-clock coverage, which would add up to more than 1,200 hours by the time the flame is extinguished on Aug. 29.

NBC’s decision to greatly expand its coverage — nearly three times more than what was available for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia — fits in nicely with the AFRTS upgrade.

“We will have the real estate to put [Olympic] programming on,” Larry Sichter said in an interview this past May.

In an e-mail message sent Thursday to AFRTS employees, Sichter said four of the network’s channels would offer Olympic coverage. The plan calls for using:

• AFN’s prime channels (i.e., AFN-Europe, AFN-Pacific and AFN-Korea) to carry NBC events.

• AFN-Sports to air USA network coverage.

• AFN-Movie for Olympic events on MSNBC AND CNBC.

• AFN-Family to show delayed coverage of earlier events on Bravo.

On weekdays during the Olympics, AFRTS plans to shift its 6:30 p.m. news program on AFN-Europe back a half hour, preempting, for those 10 days, ESPNews, which typically airs at 6 p.m. CET.

Sichter also said the evening prime time lineup (7-10 p.m.) regularly on AFN-Europe would temporarily shift to AFN-Spectrum.

AFRTS intends to provide further details on its Web site, outlining the changes planned for AFN-Spectrum as well as specific programming details relating to the two new channels.

“We will promo like crazy what we will be doing,” promised Mel Russell, the director of AFRTS.


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