Sunday, April 18, 2010

Finally, American TV

Woo hoo, we're finally hooked up to the American Armed Forces Network in our home.  AFN is broadcast via satellite to military bases, embassies and navy ships around the world.  Obviously, everything is in English and much of the programming is broadcast within 24 hours of original broadcast in the US. 

The advertising guy in me notices an unheard of mixture of cross-network programming, i.e. the Saturday morning Today Show (NBC) is broadcast on a Sunday and is immediately followed by the show Sunday Morning, which is CBS.  In addition, the programming does not appear to be as "managed" as it probably once was...apparently the news channel only used to broadcast FOX News, now the channel regularly switches between FOX, CNN and MSNBC throughout the day.
Since channel access is dependent on where you are in the world, the big military bases like Ramenstein AFB in Germany get 8 channels, while ships in the Atlantic get only 3 channels.  Since we are in the armpit of Africa, we get the Navy access “Shore-to-Ship” programming; only 3 channels, but it’s better than nothing.

The Arab channels that we normally get on the local system here in Gabon, broadcast programming based on whenever the hell the last program ended (i.e. 7:12PM, 9:43PM, etc.).  On AFN, time is managed so programming airs on the hour/half hour.  Hello appointment viewing TV.

There are no commercials on AFN.  Instead, the commercial time is used for short segments providing regional command information, pride in service spots and lots of target appropriate public service announcements like managing your military benefits, public safety and anti-terrorism messaging.  As an ad exec, what surprises me is the production value of these segments, they are excellent;  local news producers across the US should watch AFN…the segments effectively communicate information employing that local community feel while instilling a fantastic combination of warmth and credibility.

Since I have no former experience with the military, the command information segments are very interesting to me as a "regular guy".

In addition, the public service announcements effectively recognize their audience and take a very positive approach.  hey cover everything from protecting your identity to using sun screen to dealing with stress.  The alcohol abuse spots aren't telling you not to drink, instead, they provide a positive perspective, instructing you to eat a full meal, stay to one drink per hour, and meet every drink with a non alcoholic drink.  I should do that.

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