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GRIESHEIM, Germany — If you were pumped up for National Football League playoff action last weekend but didn’t have an American Forces Network satellite or cable access, you may have gotten a surprise.

This weekend, AFN Europe officials vow things will be different.

Last Saturday, instead of watching two games on AFN-Prime Atlantic — the only AFN channel available by using an outside antenna — viewers got to see college basketball. And the next day, instead of seeing two more games, they saw a professional basketball game and the Professional Bull Riders’ Worcester Classic.

Several viewers called or e-mailed Stars and Stripes asking, as one angry fan wrote, whose decision it was to “make the NFL playoffs only available on satellite?”

Apparently it was up to AFN Europe.

A spokesperson for the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service in California said that while this weekend’s games were scheduled to be shown on AFN-Sports, AFN affiliates are authorized to transmit sporting events on their local, over-the-air TV channel if they feel that best serves their community.

Larry Sichter, chief of AFN affiliate relations/Program Operations Division, said that is what AFN Korea did with the NFL wild card games during the past weekend. It is also what AFN Europe intends to do for the rest of the NFL playoff games.

“We will air the NFL division and conference playoff games on AFN-Prime Atlantic,” Capt. Jeff Clark, AFN Europe public affairs officer, said in an e-mail Wednesday. “All these games will also be on AFN Radio’s PowerNetwork.”

Schedules and frequencies can be found at www.afneurope.net.

Sichter pointed out that last weekend’s games were broadcast on the radio, as AFRTS has done in the past for major sporting events that are not available to the single-channel AFN TV audience. He also assured viewers that all AFN prime services will simulcast the Super Bowl, as will AFN’s Sports channel.

AFN Sports broadcast the wild card playoff games last weekend. In order to view this channel, a satellite and decoder that can cost as much as $500 is required. The decoder can also be rented for about $25 a month.

Some football fans believed that they were given the shaft when the playoff games were not available to watch on AFN-Prime.

David Kornegay, a Department of Defense employee in Mannheim, e-mailed the following to AFN: “Please don’t give me the line that you are trying to support all your customers, as the majority would prefer NFL, versus rodeo on a Sunday night.

“If that were the case, you would have held rodeo on alternating Sundays, during the regular season.”

In his message to Stars and Stripes, Sichter said “that nearly 90 percent of our worldwide AFN viewers now have access to our multiple channels.”


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