Some local TV stations in cities across the U.S. will be changing their over-the-air broadcast frequencies between now and July 2020.
People who watch free over-the-air television with an antenna will need to rescan their TV set each time a station moves to continue receiving the local channel. It's the same scan that you did to find your local channels when you set up your TV or converter box for the first time. Except in rare circumstances, no new equipment or services are required.
Subscribers to cable or satellite TV do not need to rescan. Service providers will do it for you.
|Rescanning only applies to people who receive their local channels using a TV antenna. Cable and satellite subscribers are not affected.|
Many over-the-air TV channels across the U.S. will be changing frequencies to help open up airwaves for new high-speed wireless services. The actual channel number on your TV will not change. After the TV is rescanned, it will be the same as before.
Why It Matters
A change in frequency impacts how a channel is received over the air by your TV. If you watch free over-the-air television with an antenna, you will need to rescan your TV set each time a station moves to a new frequency to be sure your TV recognizes the new frequency when you tune to that channel.
When to Rescan
Some local TV channels will be changing frequencies in phases through mid-2020. However, because TV channels are moving at different times, you may need to rescan your TV set more than once. Stay tuned to your local channels for information on when to rescan, as broadcasters will give viewers at least 30 days notice.
Whether or not your local TV stations are changing, it is a good idea to rescan periodically – if you haven't scanned your TV recently, you might be surprised at how many stations are now available.
FAQ: What consumers should do
When will channels make their moves?
Channels began transitioning April 13, 2017. You should monitor local TV broadcasts for public service announcements, "crawls" running across the bottom of your TV screen, and other notifications to learn the exact date that a channel in your area is making its transition. Stations changing frequencies are required to display updated information at least 30 days before their transition. You can also check the FCC's website at www.fcc.gov/media/engineering/dtvmaps for an interactive map that allows you to insert your address to see the frequency change timeframe for most local channels.
Will I need to do anything to continue watching TV over the air?
In general, no. You will not need to buy a new TV or purchase a converter box as you may have done during the transition to digital television in 2009. When one or more of your local TV stations move to a new channel, the only action that you will need to take is to rescan your television set. Stations will provide notice in advance of such a change; however if you notice a channel missing at any time, it may be because it has moved to a new channel number. If so, you may want to rescan for available TV stations in case you missed a notice. For information on how to rescan for channels, visit our guide, which includes an instructional video, at www.fcc.gov/rescan.
Will I need to buy a new antenna?
In very limited cases, a local station may move from a UHF channel to a VHF channel, which may affect those few viewers who have a UHF-only TV antenna. For more information about over-the-air TV antennas, visit our guide at: www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/antennas-and-digital-television.
Will cable and satellite still carry my local TV stations?
Broadcast TV stations will keep their current arrangements with cable and satellite TV systems to carry the stations' broadcasts after the auction process is complete.
A few broadcast TV stations may move their transmission facilities as part of this process, which may affect which TV markets they're carried in as "local" stations. If they shift to a neighboring TV market, it may affect which cable and satellite systems carry their station. Please check with your cable TV or satellite TV provider if at any time you cannot find one of your local TV stations on their systems.
- Viewers who need assistance may also contact the FCC call center toll-free by dialing 1-888-CALLFCC (1-888-225-5322) and pressing “6” to speak to a help desk representative. The call center is staffed from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. Eastern time, seven days a week, to enable consumers throughout the country to obtain assistance during evening and weekend hours.
- Consumer FAQs: TV Spectrum Auction
- Consumer Guide: Antennas and Digital Television
- Interactive TV Reception Map