Troops May Lose Historic TV Channel And Newspaper To Cuts

AFN army tvU.S. Air Forces In EuropeThe first overseas military T.V. station, which was also the first T.V. station in Portugal, in 1954.

The Pentagon may cut the military’s broadcast news and entertainment programs, reports Stars and Stripes.
Since WWII, American Forces Network (AFN) has broadcasted 24-hour television programming to troops stationed around the world where English language broadcast service was inadequate.

According to Ray Shepherd, Director of Defence Media Activity, the combined 2013 budget for AFN and the Pentagon Channel is approximately $US58 million.

Due to sequestration reductions, Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered a full review of defence spending through the Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office.

“In this budget environment, we’re looking at everything,” said Navy Cmdr. Bill Urban, spokesman for the cost assessment office.

“I think it would be a terrible mistake, I really do. The men and women who are serving get a lot of their information this way. Armed Forces Network, among many other things, does sports, which all of our men and women love,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz told Stars and Stripes.

The newspaper Stars and Stripes, editorially independent from the government and staffed almost exclusively by civilians, is also under review.

The news outlet distributes its daily print paper in the Middle East, Asia and Europe and offers an online news site.

“I don’t like the idea. I certainly acknowledge [the Pentagon has] some really difficult choices ahead, and I’d want to look at it, but I think an independent editorial voice like Stars and Stripes provides is pretty darn important for transparency and accountability and oversight in the military,” said Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill.

Along with these possible information outlet cuts, the Pentagon is also looking to close all stateside commissaries.

Last week the Defence Commissary Agency was ordered to draft a plan to close about 180 stateside military grocery stores which could save taxpayers $800 million annually.

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