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Get Your TV Signal Over the Air? It May Be Time To Rescan

Aad van der Drift/Creative Commons/Flickr

If you get your TV signal over the air, you may need to take steps to continue to watch your programs for free. One thousand television stations across the country are in the process of changing their broadcast frequencies, Hawai?i stations among them, and this means there will be changes.

The moves are part of an initiative by the Federal Communications Commission to free up spectrum space for future technologies, including the faster 5G mobile and wireless network.

The change will not affect consumers with a cable or satellite subscription. But those who watch local channels for free using an indoor antenna or one on a rooftop will need to rescan their television sets to continue to watch those channels.

"The channel numbers themselves won't change, that's important to know," Jean Kiddoo, who chairs the FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force, told HPR's The Conversation. "But behind the scenes, the TV needs to know to pick up those channels at a new frequency in the air waves."

Using an antenna was once on the decline, but many younger viewers, seniors and those wanting to save money have been cutting the cord and canceling their cable or satellite subscriptions. An estimated 15 million Americans now get their TV signals over the air. 

Stations have to notify their users of antennas at least 30 days ahead of their "rescan days," Kiddoo said.

Instructions on rescanning can be found on the FCC website. The agency also has a call center for those who need more help at 1-888-CALL-FCC.

To hear more on rescanning and what?s behind it, go to The Conversation webpage.

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