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USE A TV ANTENNA?: What You Need to Know about That “Rescan” Message

You may have noticed a message crawling on the bottom of your screen if you are like me and use an antenna to watch TV (called OTA, or over-the-air, television).

If you are a cable or satellite subscriber…the following doesn’t apply to you. Have a great day!

What’s happening is a bit of frequency housekeeping. Wireless technology continues to grow and expand. Wireless companies use up frequencies very close to the ones used by television stations to broadcast their channels. So now, the FCC wants television stations to reorganize which frequencies they use in order to make room for the new wireless technology coming our way.

How does that effect us?

Once a station changes it’s frequency it will become invisible to our antennas. The channel is still there and under the same channel number, the antenna just can’t see it. In other words, WGN will still be on Channel 9, we just have to find it again.

How do we do that? Through the “rescan” function on our TVs.

You likely had to scan for channels the first time you bought an antenna. You just have to do the same process again each time a station you watch changes it’s frequencies. The FCC requires these stations to tell you when it’s happening, and you may also hear ads about it on other media (like on our radio station!).

Different TVs call “rescanning” different things. It may be “auto tune” on your television, or something similar.

How to Rescan
Rescanning may also be referred to as auto-tuning, channel set-up, channel scan, channel search, auto-scan, auto-program, or other similar terminology depending on TV make and model. Instructions are similar across the board and typically include these steps:

  • Press “set-up” or “menu” on the TV remote control or converter box.

  • Select “channels,” “antenna,” or other similar terminology.

  • Click “scan,” “auto-tune,” “channel search,” “auto-program,” or other similar terminology.

  • The TV will do the rest. The process usually takes just a few minutes.

Bottom line, whenever a channel disappears on you, just do a rescan and all will be as it was.

Some TV stations will be changing frequencies sooner than others, but it should all be finished by July or so.

If you need to dive deeper into this, the FCC has a whole section of their website dedicated to this. Find it here.

Also, this is kind of cool for antenna-users like me.

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