American Forces Network Keeps Broadcasting for NFL Playoffs

U.S. Soldiers with 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, watch the Super Bowl in Karliki, Poland, Feb. 5, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy D. Hughes)

The American Forces Network went off the air in the government shutdown Saturday but the Pentagon said Sunday that the sports channel will be turned back on allow troops to see the NFL playoff games.

“Despite the government shutdown, DoD determined the operational necessity of television and radio broadcasts” and “constitutes them as essential activities,” Dana White, the chief Defense Department spokesperson, said in a statement.

“We will continue to find solutions to support our troops at home and abroad. Congress must come to a resolution, support our troops and pass a budget soon,” she said.

On Saturday, all eight AFN channels shut down, but White said that two of them would now be kept open – one for news, and one for sports, although the programming relies on civilian employees who were furloughed for the duration of the shutdown.

“Sports broadcasting is not an essential activity and stopped to comply with the shutdown,” White said, but “with minimal manning, we can keep the sports channel up without incurring any additional cost” or personnel constraints.

“Thanks to uniformed leadership at AFN,” White said, “we were able to turn on one channel based on operational necessity and FY17 [Fiscal Year 2017] funds had already been paid on the contract. The sports channel was turned on because it doesn't cost any more money or manpower to manage a second channel.”

— Richard Sisk can be reached at


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