How US Troops Abroad Got Screwed Out Of Olympics Coverage

How US Troops Abroad Got Screwed Out Of Olympics Coverage

Men and women in uniform got the total shaft on Olympics coverage this year. Like everyone else, active duty members of the armed forces and other agencies overseas have to watch NBC’s infuriating tape-delayed broadcasts. Even if they’re on bases in Europe, where they could otherwise watch the events live on local TV.

In this case, it’s not actually NBC’s fault, per se. You see, the TV broadcasts European bases are delivered via the Department of Defence’s American Forces Network Europe. Basically, it’s DoD-administered satellite television for the troops. Like all providers, the DOD has agreements with big media conglomerates — like the one that owns NBC — so that it can provide the same entertainment and news they’re used to seeing back home.

That would be great if more than 50 per cent of the AFN’s Olympics broadcasts actually aired live. AFN has a contract with NBC, which means the troops get NBC’s delayed feed. And yes, it’s the very best stuff that gets delayed. Stars and Stripes explains:

Many of AFN Europe’s viewers – a potential audience of up to 365,000 military and family members, civilians, retirees and State Department workers throughout Europe, Southwest Asia and North Africa – had to wait until after midnight to catch the feats of Phelps, Bolt and other athletes throughout nearly two weeks of Olympic coverage.

There have been numerous complaints about AFN’s Olympics broadcasts, and with good reason. The DoD really should have done something to ensure that the troops could watch live — especially in Europe. Barring that, it should have at least provided a custom programming block for the troops. Or just provided access to local television. Or anything besides the absolute bowl of shit it just served its servicemen.

Yeah, we get it, improvising those accommodations for a DOD-operated satellite network might be a bit like trying to run an aircraft carrier through a slalom course. But these are our troops, and the DOD is probably the most powerful entity of any kind in the world. Just get it done. [Stars and Stripes]