As “nonessential” government activities shut down due to the Republican-controlled Congress’s failure to pass a spending bill, so too does the American Forces Network, which provides TV and radio entertainment to U.S. military personnel around the world. When the shutdown took effect at midnight Friday night, all AFN programming went dark. (See below for update)
As any NFL fan can imagine, this is a particularly shitty time for AFN to shut down, because both the NFC and AFC championship games happen this Sunday. With their broadcasts offline, it’ll be a lot trickier for any overseas troops or their families to watch the games.
AFN went down partially back when there was a shutdown in October 2013, but kept news and some radio services. It’s unclear why the entire service is offline this time around.
The government shutdown was triggered late Friday when a spending bill passed by the House faltered in the Senate, mainly because it had some major flaws. Most notably, the House bill didn’t address DACA, only extended the Children’s Health Insurance Program for six years, and only kept the government open until Feb. 16.
Benefits like emergency medical care and schooling will remain available for those living on military bases, but services deemed nonessential—like extracurricular activities and general doctor’s appointments—will cease. Democrats introduced a bill to guarantee military pay during the shutdown, but that did not pass.
Update (5:15 p.m. ET): This development helps many stationed overseas, including those in Germany, Japan, Italy, and South Korea. In the Middle East, however, USO Centers appear to be scarce.
Update (12:52 p.m. ET 1/21/18): They won’t miss NFL games now.