Q: I heard something on the TV news about needing to ‘re-scan” my TV. What is going on?
Answer: People who watch TV over the air using an antenna rather than using cable or a dish service will need to “re-scan” their TVs to keep getting the channels they are used to. People who use cable or another content provider do not need to do anything.
Re-scanning allows your TV to pick up the over-the-air channels that are available in your area. It is generally part of the initial setup when you first get your TV, and many people then forget about it, but it’s not a bad idea to re-scan every few months to make sure you are getting all the channels in your market.
There is a specific reason, however, that you will need to re-scan again in the near future.
“Many over-the-air TV channels are changing frequencies to help open up airwaves for new high-speed wireless services,” according to the Federal Communications Commission. “The actual channel number seen by viewers will not change. ... Stations across the country are transitioning in phases, and viewers in most areas may need to re-scan more than once.”
Between now and June 2020, almost 1,000 TV stations around the country are expected to change their frequencies. That includes most of the local channels, though some aren’t shifting until next year.
The steps to re-scan your TV signal should be in your TV menu, and may be called re-scan, auto-tuning, channel set-up, channel scan, channel search, auto-scan, auto-program or some other term depending on the model of your TV.
“Instructions are similar across the board,” according to the FCC, and typically include the following steps:
- Press “set-up” or “menu” on TV remote control or converter box;
- Select channels, antenna, or other similar terminology;
- Click scan, auto-tune, channel search, auto-program, or other similar terms;
- The TV will do the rest. The process usually takes only a few minutes.
To get NBC, CW and My-Network TV programming after September, you will need to re-scan your antenna channels next month. Here is a list of local channels and when you will need to rescan to get them (and their secondary channels) in their new locations:
WXII NBC-12: Starting at 9 a.m. Sept. 6, viewers will need to re-scan.
WCWG CW-20: Also Sept. 6.
WFMY CBS-2: Re-scanning will not be necessary until next spring.
WGHP Fox-8: Also not until spring of next year.
WXLV ABC-45: No change is currently planned.
WMYV My-48: Starting at 10 a.m. Sept. 3, viewers will need to re-scan.
UNC-TV: Starting at 3 a.m. Sept. 6, viewers will need to re-scan.
If you pick up another channel that suddenly vanishes from your lineup, you may want to do a re-scan to see if you can get it back.
The TV Answers website, from the National Association of Broadcasters, also has links to the support pages of individual manufacturers of TVs and devices that may need to be re-scanned so you can get more detailed instructions if you need them. You can find those at www.tvanswers.org/rescan.asp