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YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Existing premium cable television subscribers will automatically receive 20 new channels by the end of June or early July and be charged $6 more per month on future bills, an Allied Telesis store representative said Friday.

Customers will receive advance notification and have an opportunity to cancel their subscriptions and return to free basic service.

The Army and Air Force Exchange Service says, however, that a final decision on pricing and service tier levels has not been made.

"There is no new information to provide at this time," said Larry Marshall, a strategic communications planner for Resilian Communications, the brand name for AAFES telecommunications products based in Dallas.

Overall charges on Allied Telesis monthly invoices vary due to built-in discounts for bundled services, but the current cost for premium TV at Yokota is about $37.95.

The base provider of Internet, voice and video services is converting TV delivery to Yokota’s coaxial system. All residents are getting a free sneak preview of CNNj, The Golf Channel and AXN on channels 97-99 through Sunday.

The other subscription channels are available now on both the base COAX and Allied Telesis Internet Protocol Television systems. But once the upgrade to a full premium lineup is complete, the Amino set top boxes will no longer be operational.

Customers are being asked to return set-top boxes, power supply, remote controls and cables to the Allied Telesis store in the Yokota Community Center by June 30.

The transition of all programming to the COAX network was "based on customer demand for ease of operation and more content," Allied Telesis and AAFES said in their latest news release. The move also accelerates channel expansion.

COAX doesn’t allow television service to be broken into multiple tiered levels, the Allied Telesis store representative said Friday. That leaves basic and premium as the only two options.

On the dial, Allied Telesis recently realigned the free basic service, which consists of the American Forces Network, base information and local Japanese channels. To view the full channel spectrum, which runs from 5-76 and 97-99, premium customers must reprogram their televisions.

"Some channels will currently be blank but as new channels are added you won’t have to retune each time," the release said.

A couple popped up Friday when two regional Fox sports stations began airing on channels 35 and 36, respectively.

Marshall said the channel expansion would continue in July and should be complete by mid-summer.

"Finalizing global content distribution agreements is a lengthy and time-consuming process, but is an essential precursor to formally announcing the availability of channels," he said in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes, adding that officials will go on looking for cable entertainment alternatives.

"Our goal is to be alert to new channels and presentation opportunities that might appeal to viewers. … Allied Telesis and AAFES [also] are moving forward with various time-shifting options that will be deployed this summer."

Lifetime Real Women, Fox Soccer and BBC World News will be available by mid-June, he added. Additional channels will follow next month and potential new selections may be previewed at various times to gauge viewer interest.

Meanwhile, the Allied Telesis customer service agent said Comedy Central, VH1 and MTV are among the 20 new channels coming to Yokota’s cable lineup this summer.

Allied Telesis is offering a special incentive for new subscribers, the release said. Those who sign up for the cable service before Sundaycan keep the three preview channels and will receive a 10 percent discount off next month’s invoice.


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