) is the operational arm of the American Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS), an agency of the American Forces Information Service (AFIS), and is under the operational control of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs (OASD-PA).
This broadcasting service employs primarily military broadcasters, but there are some civilians employed as engineers or operations personnel. Service personnel hold a broadcasting occupational specialties for their military branch. All of AFN's military personnel receive primary and follow-on training at the Defense Information School (DINFOS) at Fort George G. Meade in Maryland. Some of AFN's broadcasters have previous commercial broadcasting experience prior to enlisting in the military. The broadcasters operate state-of-the-art audio and visual editing equipment and receive training from professionals in the broadcast industry.
The American Forces Network can trace its origins back to 1942, when the War Department established the Armed Forces Radio Service (AFRS). A television service was first introduced in 1954 with a pilot station at Limestone AFB, Maine and AFRS became the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS). All of the Armed Forces broadcasting affiliates worldwide merged under the AFN banner on January 1, 1998.
While the audience tunes-in to AFN to watch their favorite shows or listen to the latest Stateside hits, entertainment is the "candy coating" used to attract the military viewer/listener; as AFN's primary mission is to provide access for local command information (CI) programs. Spots run in the place of commercials in breaks run the gamut from reminding servicememebers to register to vote, promotions of local command-sponsored recreation events, off-duty educational programs, health and wellness tips, and what's playing at local base movie theaters.
AFN inserts public service announcements, educational featurettes (as in presenting an American state capital), and localized messages from senior leadership in place of normal commercials. Many service members welcome this approach, while others find it troublesome, especially during the airing of the Super Bowl.
The network is allowed to broadcast commercial movie promotion trailers provided by the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) and the Navy Motion Picture Service (NMPS) to promote the latest film releases in base theaters worldwide. They are the only true "commercials" authorized for broadcast.
There are 8 TV streams that are produced by AFN. All of them can be picked up via satellite by military audiences. These streams are:
AFN Prime. Formerly AFN Atlantic and AFN Pacific. The standard AFN feed airs current sitcoms, dramas, syndicated "judge" shows, talk shows, game shows, and reality shows popular in the United States, with a time delay from 24 hours to a week behind the United States airdates. In addition, popular US soap operas such as Guiding Light, General Hospital and Passions are aired by AFN on a one-week tape delay. This stream is divided into two feeds (AFN Prime Atlantic and AFN Prime Pacific); the difference between the two is that they are both time-shifted so that programs air later on AFN Prime Pacific then they are on AFN Prime Atlantic. Many regional feeds (such as AFN-Europe, AFN-Iraq, and AFN-Korea) are based off of AFN Prime and add local programming to it; thus, in a way, AFN Prime mimics the regular network TV concept.
AFN Spectrum. AFN Spectrum is more of a culture-oriented channel and also airs a lot of public television programming in addition to programming from cable networks and classic TV series. In a way, it mimics the "superstation" concept from cablecasters Turner Broadcasting System (TBS) and WGN-Chicago.
AFN Xtra. A youth-oriented channel
AFN News. AFN News is a rolling-news channel providing news from all major news outlets, including military ones. Newscasts, such as the NBC Nightly News, ABC World News Tonight, and CBS Evening News, were all scheduled to air in the mornings so viewers could watch the headlines live, but now they air on a tape delay in the regular early evening slot, back to back. In addition, AFN News also airs current affairs programming.
AFN Family. AFN Family is a general family-entertainment channel providing programming for children aged 2-17.
AFN Movie. AFN Movie is a channel showcasing movies as well as film-oriented programming.
AFN Sports. AFN Sports is a rolling-sports channel, providing sports news and programming, including ESPN's SportsCenter.
Pentagon Channel. This is the only AFN channel that is available in the USA to the general public. It airs military news and information programming 24 hours a day.
AFN also offers several channels of radio as well. But that's a whole other story. It has come to my attention that I have forgotten to credit Wikipedia as my source for this article. I assure you that forgetting to credit was an oversight on my part. However, in copying this article, I edited and reformatted it to be both more PEEL and PEELer friendly, and thus was my main motivation for posting it here in the first place. I did not intend to plagiarize a reliable infomation source or create the impression that I was futilely encouraging my ego. I simply was pressed for time and clicked the 'Submit' button prematurely, and I never re-checked this thread later to realize my mistake. So this is my apology for that most appallingly dreadful oversight. (Had I had more time, I might have written an article myself...)