Monday, October 09, 2006

Some people are never happy...

Well, I'm thinking I should offer this guy a tour of AFN because he's been here twenty years and still doesn't have an idea about who we are or what we do.

For those of you who haven't been following the issue: American Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS) and the NFL have a contract that says we can have NFL games for free but we can't show them on any channel that goes out over the open air waves. This has resulted in a lot of questions for us...

Here's what I posted at www.usfkforums.com

Most AFN questions boil down to two issues: how do I get more channels off-post, and why can't I see "X" when it's clearly obvious that everyone else wants "X" just as much as I do?

Hey, if it were up to me, we'd have "Battlestar Galactica" on all the time :)

Okay, there are two basic reasons you're not going to see much NFL football on AFN Prime Pacific, and by "not much" I mean "none except for the Superbowl". You ARE going to see college football on AFN Prime, but not NFLFirst, AFN Prime Pacific is our channel for variety programming. That basically means it’s “everything for everybody”.

It’s also where we put our most popular programs, and it draws the widest audience. Second, as you may know, cable signal pirating is an issue here in Korea. We’re actually preparing another round of briefings up here on just this issue and whether or not something can be done about it.

AFN Prime is our one channel (and we can only physically do this with one channel) that goes out over the open air waves where someone with an antenna can grab it. Like maybe a cable company that then puts that signal into their own cable package ??? Just hypothetically speaking of course.

Guess what happens to us when the NFL finds out that we’re putting this signal out where just anyone can grab it and put it into their cable package? Yeah, you get the picture…That’s another reason the NFL stuff stays on AFN Sports, AFN Extra, or AFN Atlantic.

Great if you’re on the Cable system or have your dish/decoder (and your landlord actually lets you put it up), but not if you’re on the Korean cable system or just off base with an antenna.

Then I gave an interview to Stars and Stripes, which you can see here.

I made it relatively clear or so I thought...

Lawhorn, in a phone interview later Tuesday, explained that the problem boils down to broadcast rights and referred to a statement from American Forces Radio and Television Service headquarters in Riverside, Calif.

“Scheduling sports on AFN Prime Pacific continues to be problematic because many events are restricted from over-the-air broadcast in Korea by the distributors,” according to the statement. “In addition, there are currently more than 50 local Korean cable companies that are illegally pirating our programming from the over-the-air broadcasts of AFN Prime. Adding more sports to that channel jeopardizes our already delicate broadcast rights negotiations.”


Lawhorn explained that AFRTS sends the Prime Pacific signal to South Korea, where his staff inserts local command informationsuch as Korea-specific commercials and news programming — before rebroadcasting it as Prime Pacific-Korea. That signal is broadcast openly over the air, so servicemembers can monitor the channel for emergency information without having to use a satellite dish.

I mean, I think it's pretty obvious that AFRTS is behind the decision -- along with the NFL. I also think it's pretty clear that we just put in the command information...we (AFN-Korea) don't make policy regarding the NFL games.

The online community is really supportive and even offered some other reasons...

I know us in the expat teaching community really apperciates Col Lawhorns openess in telling us whats going on. I never knew the cable companies here pirate the signal, I always thought it was negoitated in the SOFA or something like that so the Korean companies could carry the signal.

Given all the AFN classes that offered by the hogwons there ought to be a way cable companies pay you folks for the signal, they are making enough money off of itRegarding the NFL 2 things are going on IMHO. For years the Koreans and the NFL could care less about things here, Then Hines Ward wins the Super Bowl MVP and Korea goes nuts. The NFL sees a potential market. Notice all the Steeler games being shown? As soon as something happens to him the interest will go away

So then I get some nasty letter to the Editor that basically calls me a liar and accuses me of scamming the public...why, I don't know...it's not like we're getting anything out of this.

Check this out: nasty letter to the editor.

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