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PSA: Missing Some Local TV Channels? Here’s Why You Need to Rescan

Examples of errors you might see on your TV indicating you need to rescan for new channels.

If you get some or all of your TV channels over the air and some of them have gone missing recently, here’s why (and what to do about it).

Starting last year and continuing until July 2020, the broadcast frequencies of hundreds of stations across the United States are being shuffled about slightly. The move isn’t intended to frustrate people who use aerial antennas to pull down local over-the-air (OTA) stations, but to free up space in certain frequency bands for high-speed, wireless, wide-area internet access technologies.

While most stations are notifying viewers with onscreen messages if you missed the message you may be wondering what’s going on. The easy solution, rather than try to follow announcements, is to simply use the rescan feature on your TV. Every week or two, run the feature to pick up the new locations of your familiar old stations.

If you’d like a more hands-on approach though, you can check out the FTC’s free digital TV coverage map here. Plug in your zip code, and you’ll see not only a list of available TV stations in your area.

Not only does it show you the channel numbers for all the stations (so you can see if the one you’re looking for has moved already) but also the designation of the station’s move status.

Example image of the FTC channel tracking tool.

“RS” and “R” in the far-right status column indicates the station is moving channels. You can click on the channel’s call sign to see additional information, including what the new channel will be and when the projected move date is.

Jason Fitzpatrick Jason Fitzpatrick
Jason Fitzpatrick is the Editor in Chief of LifeSavvy. He has over a decade of experience in publishing and has authored thousands of articles at LifeSavvy, Review Geek, How-To Geek, and Lifehacker. Read Full Bio »
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