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The AFL recently held its annual "multicultural round" and made a big splash by offering commentary in a second language for all of the matches. While it might be news to fans down under, alternate language broadcasts are not news to fans in North America. If you check our TV schedules, even occasionally, you have probably noticed listings in French and Spanish. The changes in the way we list telecasts in recent years has made that possible. At AFANA, we're committed to supporting fans who watch in languages other than English and living in North America.

AFANA has, since it's inception, supported fans north of the border. From our earliest days nearly 20 years ago, we have been committed to providing information for fans in Canada and true to our name, we've started to make small moves toward supporting fans to the south in Mexico, too. A key part of that support has been to begin listing the French language broadcasts in Canada and the Spanish language broadcasts in Mexico and Latin America on our TV page.

You might wonder how those differ from the broadcasts we see in English. We'll take the games shown on RDS & RDS2 up north as a good example. I don't get too many chances in my schedule to take those in but I made a point to do so this past week. The folks at RDS do a very professional job with the coverage, always shown on a delayed basis. The game is one of the two matches aired on the English side on the TSN networks. My French is poor so I can't make a detailed assessment of how accurate the commentary is, but I can tell you the production quality is very high. The commentary team is Claudine Douville and Frédéric Pierrestiger and they work well together. Both are veterans of coverage of sports such as soccer and rugby.

From a studio in Montreal, they take the raw feed of the matches minus the 7 or Fox logos and the match is repackaged with music and opening graphics produced by RDS. It's all fairly seamlessly melded into the Australian product. The audio is all French with no use of the Australian commentary. As a means of explaining the action and the game to French Canadian fans I'm sure it works to at least some degree. Overall, it bears some clear resemblance to the way ESPN covered the VFL back in the first years of the network with the addition of redone commentary. Kudos to RDS for doing this, it's essential if we are to grow the game among French language fans.

Two final observations: the potential audience among Hispanic fans is even larger and the coverage on Claro is very important for that reason. AFANA would also like to see Spanish language coverage extended to a Hispanic oriented US sports network. We also want to see US studio pre/post game coverage return to the English language coverage. You might ask why. While we are sure that many long time fans are very comfortable and even enjoy the Australian commentary it may not be the same for new fans. If there weren't some cultural differences that are obstacles to gaining new fans we would not need to have all of the web pages and video on this site for new fans. One of most popular pages is "Footy Words You Need To Know". Just as the US networks have American hosted shows for European soccer, we need the same for the AFL telecasts. It will help grow the sport. That growth is the best insurance we can have toward keeping the AFL on the air in North America.

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