Government shutdown blocks overseas troops from watching title games

By The Sports Xchange  |  Jan. 20, 2018 at 6:49 PM
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The shutdown of the government will prevent U.S. military personnel overseas from watching Sunday's NFL conference championship games.

The American Forces Network, which provides entertainment and command information to American military overseas and was scheduled to telecast the AFC and NFC title games, stopped broadcasting Saturday in Europe, Stars and Stripes reported.

The military newspaper displayed an image of a message provided by the network Saturday. It showed the AFN logo with the words: "Due to the government shutdown, AFN services are not available."

Classical music was playing on the network instead of its typical programming.

The same message was posted on the American Forces Network's Facebook page, drawing a barrage of comments aimed at both Democrats ("never again will you get my vote") and Republicans ("just can't learn how to govern"), as well as President Trump.

"Remember Trump said that any government shut down is the reflection of POTUS. ... he is to blame" read one comment.

Operated by the Department of Defense, the network offers multiple television, radio and streaming outlets to military in 168 countries as well as U.S. Navy ships worldwide.

"Under a government shutdown, sports broadcasts are not considered an essential activity. We are looking for creative solutions to continue to provide our troops with some of the comforts of home," said Dana White, the chief Pentagon spokesperson. "We hope Congress will come to a resolution, support our troops and pass a budget."

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy offered one alternative via Twitter on Saturday, posting that "Military members can watch tomorrow's NFL games at USO Centers overseas through NFL Game Pass for free."

Stars and Stripes said it was unclear why the network went off the air completely, noting that during the last government shutdown in October 2013, the AFN provided some news and radio services.

The AFN also was scheduled to stop broadcasting at 2 p.m. in Japan, according to a Facebook post on "Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Japan."

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