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Eligible off-base residents can pick up free AFN satellite receivers and decoders on Navy bases this month under a U.S. Forces Japan program to give those living off base access to command information.

Yokosuka Naval Base will begin issuing the equipment Monday, according to a Navy news release.

Sasebo Naval Base already offers the service, and Naval Air Facility Atsugi will start later this month.

Using the receiver and decoder, off-base households can access American Forces Network television and radio stations so command or other critical information can be broadcast to them in an emergency.

U.S. Forces Japan earlier this year bought equipment for more than 10,000 households in Japan as part of the $3.2 million Pacific Command initiative.

The service is not the same as that offered through Navy Exchanges, where customers buy a dish and rent a decoder. That program will not be free — individuals using that service still will need to go through the housing office to get the new, free equipment and service.

The free equipment will be offered through the housing self-help departments for eligible customers, Commander, Naval Forces Japan project manager Scott Tupper said in a written statement. Navy personnel in Okinawa and Misawa should contact the Air Force, which administers the program in those areas.

Active-duty servicemembers authorized to live off base and Department of Defense civilians hired in the States will be eligible for one receiver and decoder. The program can save people about $300 a year, according to USFJ estimates.

To get the equipment, residents first must submit a form signed by their landlord showing they have permission to install the dish. The form, titled “AFRTS DTH Satellite Television Installation Approval Form,” is available from the housing self-help office.

The system provides viewers with nine AFN TV channels and several radio channels.

Individuals will be responsible for installation, but a self-help Web site and telephone hot line are available. Dishes must face 95 degrees east to get a signal, Tupper stated.

Yokosuka’s self-help department will have plenty of dishes and decoders, Tupper stated, but has a limited numbers of brackets available. However, brackets and cords can be bought off base.

For information, contact the housing self-help office at Yokosuka; at Atsugi, visit Tower 3043; and at Sasebo, see the main housing office. Call DSN 243-6662 for more information.

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