AFN airing comprehensive election year coverage

AFN airing comprehensive election year coverage

by Petty Officer 3rd Class Leon Wong and George A. Smith
AFN Broadcast Center

The American Forces Network’s (AFN’s) extensive 2020 election year coverage will include every Presidential and Vice Presidential debate and simultaneous election day coverage from three stateside networks.

Each debate will air live on AFN|news and repeat twice at times more convenient for overseas military community viewers.  The initial live coverage and the two repeat airings will each come from a different stateside network.

While the pool video feeds from the debates are virtually identical, there are subtle differences in each network’s coverage.

“What’s most noticeable is the introductory ‘framing’ of the debate by each network’s anchors, and the analysis offered afterward,” says AFN|news programmer Mike Roberts,  “A bit more subtle, but still significant, are the words contained in the captions and tickers each network inserts at the bottom of the screen.  They  offer a separate, rich layer of context unique to each network. This literal subtext is just one more thing we take into account in complying with our instruction to provide “contrasting perspectives.”

The first Presidential debate between President Trump and former Vice President Biden is scheduled for Sept. 29.  Two more debates are scheduled for Oct. 15 and 22.  The debate between Vice President Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris is slated for Oct. 7.

As AFN’s broadcast schedule moves from one program source to the next, coverage of a political event may be discontinued because of differences in the next scheduled network’s editorial judgment. As a matter of courtesy, it is the practice of AFN|news not to interrupt or switch away from speeches or press conferences by a party’s presidential nominee if those remarks are already underway, provided one of our authorized commercial sources is sending a feed.

“It is our policy to provide a free flow of political programming; consequently, we are reluctant to break away from live political coverage,” says Roberts.  “But we also have a duty to viewers who rely on us for regularly-scheduled programs which may appeal to contrasting viewpoints.”

AFN will air 10 hours of simultaneous live coverage on election night from three different services: AFN|news, AFN|prime Atlantic and AFN|prime Pacific.  Each will feature a different stateside network.  Coverage starts at Midnight Central European Time/ 8 a.m. Japan Korea Time Nov. 4, and will continue as long as fresh numbers are coming in.

Roberts fully understands the importance of providing this coverage to the most deserving audience in the world: the United States military. 

“The free and open selection of our leaders is central to the American idea of democracy. Around the clock, the AFN audience stands on the ramparts of that great idea,” he said.  “Our duty is to give them the best possible view of what they’re defending.”

For a full schedule of all AFN shows, go to

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