A very common question I get on DisableMyCable.com is “why did some of my broadcast TV channels disappear?” Usually, people think something is wrong with their antennas, but in fact, TV antennas are pretty simple devices, just a piece of metal basically (unless it is amplified).
2019 UPDATE: The FCC and TV stations are in the midst of a “channel re-pack” where they are shifting the frequencies of many TV stations. During this period, you may lose channels due to the signal being temporarily weaker while the real antenna tower is upgraded, or due to the signal coming from a different direction. More info and schedule here. The re-pack is scheduled to be completed in mid-2020.
The two things you can do are: keep scanning (say, once a week) to see if the channels come back, and try these tips to improve your reception.
Here is a rundown of some possible reasons you lost TV channels.
1. The TV Station’s Frequency Changed – Try Re-Scanning
If you suddenly lose a channel, the first thing I would do is re-scan for channels on your TV. It may be just that easy to get the channel back!
TV stations do sometimes change frequencies, which could result in you no longer getting the channel, even if your TV is tuned to the proper channel number.
This is happening on certain stations from now until 2020, by federal law. It’s commonly known as the “FCC re-pack”. To see if any stations in your area are changing frequencies, and when, check out tvanswers.org.
2. The TV Transmitter Tower Changed Location
In the FCC re-pack, some stations might move temporarily to an auxiliary tower while the main tower is upgraded. So, try to orient your antenna in different directions to find it.
3. The TV Transmitter Power Was Reduced
During the FCC re-pack, your TV channel might have moved to a weaker auxiliary transmitter tower while the main broadcast tower is upgraded. If re-scanning didn’t solve the problem, try my tips to improve reception.
4. The TV Station Went Away
Sometimes TV stations go away completely. This happened to a few stations here in Los Angeles, where the FCC allowed TV stations to auction off their spectrum to wireless providers. Usually, these are higher-numbered not-as popular stations as opposed to the major networks. Google the station’s call letters to see if you can find out what happened. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about this.
5. Your Antenna Moved – Try Re-Orienting It
From my testing, I’ve found that even a small change in antenna position or angle can have a big impact on your reception. Try moving your antenna around to see if that helps.
If your antenna is on your roof, you might have to go up there to make sure it hasn’t fallen or shifted.
6. Your Antenna’s Amplifier Went Bad – Try Bypassing It
An antenna is a dead-simple device, it’s pretty much a piece of shaped metal. But, an antenna amplifier a much more complex device, and it’s much more prone to failure.
If you have an amplified antenna (i.e, your antenna requires power), such as the Mohu Leaf 50, try removing the amplifier from your antenna and plugging your antenna directly into your TV. This worked for reader Faith G!
7. Your Cables are Loose – Reconnect and Tighten Them
Make sure your coax cable connections are tight, both at your TV and at your antenna. I was advising one reader offline, and this turned out to be his problem! He was losing signal at the same time every day. He disconnected all of his cables to his attic amplifiers, then re-connected them. Problem solved!
8. Electronic Interference – Turn off Other Devices
It is possible that a new electronic device in your home or neighborhood is wreaking havoc on your TV signal. I’ve heard all kinds of stories about this from my readers.
First, turn off all electronic appliances in your home and see if your reception gets better. This includes fluorescent lights, computers, Wi-Fi routers, cable modems, Bluetooth devices, cell phones, and so on. If your reception improves, turn on each device one-by-one until you find the culprit.
If you live in a condo or apartment complex, it’s possible that a neighbor’s device is causing the problem. Not much you can do about that, but you can try my tips to improve your antenna’s reception.
9. Weather / Atmospheric Conditions
The weather and time of day can adversely affect your TV reception. Clouds, fog, rain, etc. can adversely affect your signal. Some people report worse reception at night while others report the opposite.
Try these tips to improve your reception.
10. Your TV’s Tuner is Going Bad
This is likely than the other items on this list, but it’s possible that your TV’s tuner circuitry is degrading. I have heard of this from a couple of my readers. If you have another TV, try tuning the missing stations on that one as an experiment.
11. There Is a New Physical Obstacle
If they just built a high rise between your home and the TV transmitter, it could be blocking the TV signal. This could happen, especially in big cities like New York. Try playing with your antenna position.
These are some of the reasons why your favorite station might have gone away. Let me know if any of these tips have helped or if you found any other causes for the loss of TV stations. – Brian
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If you have a question about this article, leave a comment below. If you want advice on TV reception, leave your zip code. I try to reply to all comments. I hope this article was helpful to you. - Brian