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Rescan FAQs: Why? When? How?

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(iStock / Pgiam)

What is this happening? By law, nearly 1,000 television stations must move to new frequencies to make room for wireless services.

Why is this happening? Congress authorized the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) – the agency that governs the public airwaves – to auction off broadcast TV frequencies (or airwaves) to make more channels available for wireless services.

When is this happening? Every television market is changing at different times. Most of Jacksonville’s stations are required to make the change on Jan. 16, 2020.

How does it impact me? Most Jacksonville stations are changing: WJXT-4, WCWJ-17, WFOX-30 and WJEB-59 are required to change frequencies on Jan. 16. WJCT-7 has until May 1 and several low-power TV stations have either made the switch or haven’t been assigned a time to make the change. If you rely on an antenna to receive free, over-the-air TV, rescan your TV anytime after your local stations move. You do not need to purchase new equipment or services to rescan. If you pay to subscribe to a television service – such as cable or satellite – you do not need to take any action.

What does a station move entail? Stations will be moving frequencies, which in most cases means replacing the transmitter and changing the antenna atop of their current tower. These changes are happening behind the scenes.

Will my TV stations get new numbers? After you rescan your TV set, Channel 4 and other local TV stations will still be found at their usual channel numbers.

What is rescanning? Rescanning is when your TV or digital converter box finds all of the available channels in your area. If you haven’t rescanned your TV recently, you may discover TV channels that you didn’t know you were missing.

What do I do? If you rely on an antenna to receive free, over-the-air TV, rescan your TV or converter box anytime after 10 a.m. Jan. 16 to continue watching free, broadcast television. You do not need to purchase new equipment or services to rescan your TV. Click here to learn how to rescan. If you subscribe to a pay-TV service – such as cable or satellite – you do not need to do anything, your service provider will do it for you.

If I need help rescanning, who do I call? Click here for rescanning instructions. If you have difficulty, consult the owner’s manual for your television or converter box for more detailed instructions on how to run a channel scan or contact customer service for your TV or converter box manufacturer. You do not need to purchase new equipment or services to rescan your TV. For additional assistance, contact the FCC’s consumer hotline at 1-888-225-5322 and press prompt number 6.

I rescanned my TV as suggested and am still missing channels. What should I do? If you are missing channels after your initial rescan on or after Jan. 16, try to rescan your set again. If multiple rescans are not solving the problem, you may want to clear the memory of your TV by following these steps:

  • Disconnect the antenna from the TV or converter box.
  • Rescan the TV or converter box without the antenna connected. As with any scan follow the on-screen instructions or owner’s manual for your TV.
  • Unplug the TV or converter box from the electrical outlet for one minute.
  • Reconnect the antenna to the TV or converter box and plug the unit into the electrical outlet.
  • Rescan the TV or converter box again.

Also, keep in mind that the location of an indoor antenna is key. Try moving your antenna near a window and position it as high as possible. Keep it away from other electronic equipment, including computers, DVD players, converter boxes, etc. You may want to change the direction the antenna is facing if you are not getting reception.

Do I need to buy a new antenna? Probably not, but in a few cases, your local station may have moved from broadcasting in ultra-high frequency (UHF) to broadcasting in very high frequency (VHF). In these few instances, you may need to either adjust your antenna manually or purchase a new antenna in order to receive the signal. AntennaWeb.org may be able to provide you with more precise information regarding signal strength and what type of antenna may work for you.

I lost my original TV remote, what do I do? If you cannot find the remote control for your television or converter box, try using a universal remote to rescan or check the TV for controls located on the side or back of the unit. If you do not see controls on the TV, contact your set manufacturer for assistance.