Don't lose your local channels: Find out if, how you can rescan your TV

Do you use an antenna? We'll talk you through these easy steps

Between now and July 2020, some local TV stations will be changing their over-the-air broadcast frequencies.

That might mean something to you and your family if you use an antenna, because it’s possible you’ll wake up one morning and find out the reception on some of your local channels isn’t as good as it used to be.

Or maybe you’ll have a hard time getting your favorite channels to appear at all.

No big deal!

This just means you’ll need to do a rescan. It only takes a minute.

The Federal Communications Commission explains exactly what that means in the quick, easy-to-understand video below.

Don't overthink it: You don’t really need to understand the part about what it means for a station to change broadcast frequencies.

You just need to understand what to do if this affects you or perhaps an elderly relative.

We’ll break down the steps.

1.) You'll notice the problem, or you’ll see a message come across your TV screen. The alert will say something like, “weak or no signal,” “this channel is moving frequencies” or “rescan your TV.”

2.) If you rely on an antenna to watch free, over-the-air TV, you just need to rescan your TV to find your channels again. Then your channels will appear the same way they were before.

3.) The TV itself will do the heavy lifting here, so to speak. Find your remote and locate the button labeled “menu” or “setup.”

4.) Click the button and follow the on-screen instructions. The TV will scan and search for all available channels. This is the same process you followed when you first got the TV, so it may feel familiar.

A few things to note

You don’t need to buy anything. Your TV is just fine. There's no need to buy a new one, and you don't need a converter box, either.

Although we touched on this earlier, we'll say it again: This rescan only applies to people who use an antenna. If you’re a cable or satellite subscriber, you’re not affected.

Not all local channels are changing, and this rescan process will happen in waves, so don’t expect all your channels to switch at the same time. But many stations will change frequencies through mid-2020, so it's something to be aware of.

If you hear of any rescan news or you notice a local channel is missing or fuzzy, then maybe it’s time to hit that menu button and check it out. If you’re a frequent TV watcher, stations typically give you at least 30 days notice before this happens. So hopefully, it won't come as a huge surprise.

Your local TV stations will even announce their specific “rescan days,” on which you will need to rescan. Be on the lookout for public service announcements and crawls running along the bottom of your screen.

“A good rule of thumb is to rescan your TV anytime you notice that a channel is missing,” Global News Wire said. “If you haven’t rescanned in a while, you may be surprised by how many other channels are now available.”

Here’s an easy hack to tell you about: The FCC website offers an interactive map where you can enter your address to see which of your local TV channels will be changing. It’ll even tell you the dates for the “rescan days.”

Still have questions? Visit this FCC website or call the help line at 888-CALL-FCC.

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