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

Jul 7, 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.

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. 

1. Manually Add Missing Channels Back

Some TVs let you manually add channels manually in the setup menus. My old Sony Bravia would do this but my new Samsung does not. Consult your TV’s manual.

Other TVs let you simply type in the RF channel (this is not necessarily the same as the channel you know it by) of the station on your remote just like you do when you change channels. If the signal is there, it will lock into it. To find the RF channel, enter your zip code in the Station Finder, then click the channel you want and look for “RF channel” below that.

A TV station's RF channel
A TV station’s RF channel

You might need to enter the channel number with a “.1” or “-1” after it, depending on your TV.

Remember, this will only work if the antenna can pick up the station, so you might need to move your antenna to a position where it can receive that channel.

2. Move Your Antenna to a Better Location Temporarily and Scan

If your TV doesn’t let you manually add 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 nearest window, and hang your antenna outside, pointing towards the TV towers in your area, then run the scan. You may need a longer coax cable.

That’s an easy way to temporarily give your TV the best possible reception during the scan. When done, bring your antenna back inside. Once your antenna is back to its normal location, 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.

The Station’s RF Channel Changed and Your TV Can’t Find It

A totally different scenario 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.

1. Find the Real RF Channel

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.

2. 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

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3 months ago

We got my husband a Roku TCL tv for his man cave, before he had a Philips Android tv in there. Anyways with the Philips tv we were able to get our local NBC station but now with the very same antenna on the Roku TCL tv, I have run the channel scan several times and it is not finding the NBC station. Again same antenna just different tv. Oh and we have the same model antenna on our two other Roku TCL tv’s and they get our local NBC station just fine. So this makes no sense to me, any ideas/suggestions??

Gary Smith
Gary Smith
4 months ago

Just scanned to get better reception on ABC and find I can no longer get my PBS channels. How can I get them back?

George Pair
George Pair
4 months ago

We moved. the

Janet call
Janet call
5 months ago

Our channel 35 is not coming in. None of the 35 channels work. Don’t understand why. In yakima Washington. These are antenna channels. All the others work.

5 months ago

I scanned my free air to air channels on my tv and it lost all except kbc,how can I restore them?

Brent c
Brent c
8 months ago

Last nite had 36 channels awake today after rescans only 2 no changes to antenna etc ?

Carl Fetterman
Carl Fetterman
8 months ago

I have three tv’s connected through an amplified splitter. One channel, channel 7, does not come in on one tv but is strong on the other two. Two TV’s receive about 10 more channels than the problem TV, but they are all weaker channels so that is not really a surprise. I have swapped ports on the splitter, but the issue remains. I have connected the tv directly, and also through the dish receiver box using the Dish OTA adapter with no change. All transmitters are located on the same mountain, 23 miles away. Is it likely a cable issue? I can try another cable, but it’s a hassle so I was hoping to solve it some other way.


k bender
k bender
8 months ago

What is going on?? I haven’t been ablre to get tv in 2 days. Is there another company besides dish?

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