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What To Do If You Lost TV Channels After Re-Scanning

By Brian Shim
Published 07/07/2020
 | Updated 07/07/2020

You've probably heard by now that you're supposed to re-scan for TV channels early and often to get the most channels in your area, especially during the "FCC Re-Pack".

While that is generally true, there are some circumstances where you could actually lose channels after re-scanning. I've gotten lots of comments and emails from readers who've lost channels after scanning. And it finally happened to me too!

Here are two scenarios where you could actually lose TV channels after a re-scan.

  1. The reception conditions changed from when you originally scanned to now
  2. The station's RF channel changed, and your TV is still looking at the old channel

Let's examine the reasons and the solutions.

1. The Reception Conditions Have Changed

It's possible that the TV signal for the channel you lost was stronger when you originally scanned than it is now. There can be many reasons for this, including time of day, atmospheric conditions, electrical interference, or a weaker signal due to obstacle or lower transmitter power. 

If you lose a station, sometimes you can go into your TV's settings and simply add it back. Consult your TV's manual for how to do this.

If that doesn't work, or if you have a lot of missing channels, AND you are using an indoor antenna, you might want to try this trick:

Let's say you are using a flat antenna hanging on your wall. Open the closest window, and hang your antenna outside, facing towards the TV towers in your area, then run the scan. That's an easy way to temporarily give your TV the best possible reception during the scan. When done, bring your antenna back inside. You may not be able to tune all of the channels, but at least they will be in your TV's memory so you can experiment with your antenna position.

2. The Station's RF Channel Changed and Your TV Can't Find It

This happened to me with my old Sony Bravia TV from 2008. 

One day, I suddenly lost my local NBC station due to the "FCC Re-Pack". Fine. I re-scanned like you're supposed to. But then, I lost a whole bunch of other channels, including my local CBS and NBC stations. What happened??

Well, I went on the Station Finder and noticed that my local CBS station, KCBS normally on channel 2.1 on my TV, had moved and had an RF channel of 34. Well, I know that modern TVs have the ability to map a channel's physical RF channel to a different tuner channel on your TV to make it so the channel number you know and love never changes, even if the physical frequency changes.

So, theoretically, I should have been able to see KCBS on channel 2.1, but for the heck of it, I tried tuning to its physical RF channel, 31.1, and voila!!  KCBS was there!!

I actually talked to the head of engineering at KCBS and he told me that some older Sony TVs don't have the ability to map the RF channel to a different displayed channel. So, on my TV I need to now find KCBS on channel 31.1 instead of channel 2.1.

To figure out if this is happening in your case, go to the Station Finder and enter your zip code. Click the call letters of the station you lost and look for the RF channel.

The FCC Station Finder showing the actual channel

Try tuning your TV to that channel plus .1 or .3. or other tenths in that channel. So in this example, the RF channel is 31, so you should try tuning to 31.1, 31.3, and so forth (the the tenths are more often odd numbers).

If you go back to the original channel for that station (in my case 2.1), it's possible that your TV will be able to "connect" the new channel to the old displayed channel.  In my case, that didn't work, but I'm happy to get CBS again, even if I have tune it at channel 31.1 instead of 2.1.

Update Your TV's Firmware

Another thing you can try is to update your TV's firmware (i.e., the software that runs inside your TV), especially if it is an older TV.

Check your TV manufacturer's website for any updates. Sometimes  you can download these to a USB stick, then plug it into your TV to update it.

Try re-scanning after that.  You might get the channels back.  Or, if your channels came in at odd different channels (like mine did), they might get mapped back to the correct channels after the update.

Did This Work For You?

Let me know if any of these tips helped you get channels that you lost after your re-scan! If you found a different solution, let us know about it! - Brian

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Brian Shim, DisableMyCable.com
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Ask a Question or Tell Me Your Story

If you have a question about this article, leave a comment below. I personally read and answer each one. If you want advice on TV reception, leave your zip code. I'd also love to hear how you're saving money on TV. Tell me your story! - Brian

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