MANNHEIM, Germany — The 5th Signal Command is turning off its over-the-air TV transmitters in most of Germany and Belgium this year in the latest step to modernize the way Americans get their AFN TV services in Europe.
The changes will only affect the relatively few viewers who get only one AFN TV service, AFN Atlantic|Prime, with a roof-top or “rabbit-ears” antenna and will not impact people who get AFN via on-post cable or from an AFN decoder.
In-other-words, if you see more than one AFN TV service when you turn on your TV, the change does not affect you. The one area in Germany that will retain its over-the-air TV transmitter is Schweinfurt, Germany.
AFN is letting viewers know about the changes with a TV commercial that warns about the over-the-air signal going away two weeks before it happens.
“If you’re seeing the commercial, it’s going away,” said AFN Europe Commander Col. Bill Bigelow. “If you’re not seeing it, don’t worry about it.”
Most people in the states and Europe get their TV from a satellite decoder or cable.
The turning off of over-the-air transmitters in Europe has been under way for some time. Terrestrial AFN TV broadcasting stopped in Italy October 2006.
American military personnel saw the first military TV broadcasts in Ramstein in 1957 over an extremely low-powered over-the-air transmitter, with TV debuting in Berlin in 1968 over a one-watt transmitter. Many American military personnel in Europe didn’t get AFN TV at all, just radio, until the 1970s.
Military viewers in Italy first got American Forces Network TV in 1976, which was also the year AFN television went from black-and-white to color.AFN continued to broadcast one TV service over different low-powered TV transmitters in Europe until 1997 when the audience started to get AFN Atlantic, AFN Pacific, AFN Korea, AFN|Newssports and AFN|Spectrum by cable or satellite TV decoder.
In 2001, News and Sports became two separate TV services — AFN |News and AFN| Sports. In 2004, AFN|Movie and AFN|Family services were added.
On Sept. 3, 2004, the entertainment services (AFN Atlantic, AFN Pacific and AFN Korea) changed to the name PRIME. Later, a service was added that features lots of shows for 18- to 24-year-old viewers: AFN|xtra.