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SEOUL — Some satellite television viewers in South Korea and Japan may be asking themselves why they’ve spent the last day staring at a blank screen instead of their favorite American Forces Network programming.

The answer is simple: They didn’t reprogram their AFN satellite decoder boxes by the Wednesday deadline.

New technology, said AFN Korea spokesman Capt. Paradon Silpasornprasit, led to a need for AFN to switch a new transmitter to a different transponder on the AFN satellite.

In an effort to avoid breaks in service, AFN has spent the past five weeks using both transponders, giving customers time to make necessary adjustments.

As of midnight Wednesday, the old transponder was turned off.

To help with the transition, the Television and Audio Support Activity, based in Riverside, Calif., sent technical assistance teams to South Korea and Japan through May 6.

The customer service representatives said they would be happy to walk people through the process and address other satellite decoder-related problems — but they’ll have to conduct business over the phone.

“We can’t make house calls,” said Sgt. 1st Class Antonio Vallarie from his temporary assignment in Seoul.

He also warned customers against moving their satellite dishes if they are experiencing problems.

Silpasornprasit said that while any change in service has a chance to lead to inconveniences, AFN is doing all it can to make the transition as smooth as possible for customers.

“The bottom line is this will allow us to give better customer service,” he said, adding that the new transmitter will eventually open up the option for more local broadcasts and the possibility for additional channels.

Decoder help

Instructions on adjusting AFN decoders can be found at:

Officials said the process takes about five to ten minutes.

To contact the customer service representatives, call:

South Korea: 724-6212 or 724-5077Japan: 225-2370 or 225- 5547The customer service personnel will answer phones from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday until May 6.

Customers who need help outside those hours can call the AFN Broadcast Center 24-Hour Technical Assistance Line at (DSN) 312-348-1339 or (commercial) 951-413-2339.

— Jimmy Norris

Stripes in 7

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