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TV Frequencies Are Changing, So Some Will Have To Re-Scan Channels

If you get TV over the airwaves (not cable or satellite), you'll need to re-scan the channels next week.
If you get TV over the airwaves (not cable or satellite), you'll need to re-scan the channels next week.

Many TV stations nationwide are switching to new broadcast frequencies this month as part of a federal effort to open up new spectrum for high-speed wireless services, including 5G. That means if you get TV over the airwaves you'll have to re-scan the channels on your TV.

This won't affect you if you watch TV on cable or satellite. But if you use rabbit ears or another antenna, you'll have to re-scan the channels.  

"TVs are not shipped from the manufacturer with local stations pre-programmed in them. So when they set the TV up for the first time, they had to scan it to be able to have the TV recognize what was available on each channel locally," says Jean Kiddoo of the Federal Communications Commission. "And what we're saying here is that simply needs to get done again, because the TV needs to be re-trained to know where to pick up the new frequency."

Kiddoo said channel numbers aren't changing, just the frequencies stations use to broadcast their signals. Many TV stations in the Carolinas have been running on-screen notices and website messages alerting viewers to the switch. 

The change was supposed to happen by Friday, Sept. 6.  But many stations including those in the Carolinas have been given an extra week to comply because of Hurricane Dorian. The FCC said Tuesday it pushed back the deadline because of the critical role that TV stations play in getting out information during hurricanes

The deadline now is Wednesday, Sept. 11. After that, if you tune in and your favorite channel is static, you'll know it's time to re-scan. 


How to re-scan your TV and other information on the FCC website, https://www.fcc.gov/TVrescan

David Boraks is a veteran journalist who covers climate change for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.