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

By Brian
Published 07/07/2020
 | Updated 11/05/2021

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. My old Sony would let you add channels manually but my new Samsung does not. Consult your TV's manual.

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

Did You Like This Article?

Brian Shim, DisableMyCable.com
If you did, please share it and sign up for my email updates. I'll send you my new articles, no more than once a month.

Check out my other site, thefrugalnoodle.com, with ideas on saving money and living simply.

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. 

When you comment, you'll automatically receive replies by email. Your email address will not be displayed.

I'd also love to hear how you're saving money on TV. Tell me your story!  Thanks! - Brian
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21 Comments
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Brent c
Brent c
9 hours ago

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

Carl Fetterman
Carl Fetterman
7 days 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.

Thanks

k bender
k bender
11 days ago

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

Lexx
Lexx
30 days ago

YEP that worked. Lost my moms favorite channel when I re scanned her tv and scanning the RF channel instead finally brought back channel 5 the only channel she watches joel olsteen on every sunday morning thanks to u i got it back

Jeff
Jeff
1 month ago

This is the first time I've heard of another person having the same problem I've had with my older Sony for years. (I'm also in LA). I found that when a new local station comes on the air using the physical channel that was another station's virtual channel, the station with the physical channel would replace the station that used that virtual channel number. It might also appear on it's virtual channel, so it was in two places. The station that had been on the virtual channel now comes in on it's physical channel (there must have been some tuner programming to make that happen). Right now that affects channels 2.n, 4.n and 5.n. I wish all the stations would just replace their logos and stationary and go by the physical channel number.

Jeff Cupps
Jeff Cupps
1 month ago

At Wits End. Have an older SONY Bravia KDL-46W4100 which has lost all channels except 5.1. When i rescan for antenna channels the TV says it finds 46 channels, when I try to turn on a channel after that, it shows no signal on all channels except 5.1, which comes in clear and strong. I've used several antennas and even connected to a large roof mounted antenna and have the same situation with each. I can't imagine that this TV has gone "tango uniform" on all channels except one... Everything else works fine. HDMI connections are strong. I've read that channel 5.1 has caused issues with other people but how do I get past this. Any help would be hugely appreciated. Thanks.
Jeff

D. Gee
D. Gee
2 months ago

I moved from zip 10455 Bronx to 10034 Manhattan now my mohu antenna cannot pick up abc, nbc, cbs or anything, why?

John Kirk
John Kirk
7 months ago

My current TV looses all previously saved channels when I rescan. In a rural area with indoor antenna I wanted to prove some reception before investing time and labor in outdoor antenna. According to the tower map I am fringe on antennas in nearly opposite directions. My current Hisense TV resets all channels when scanning and takes 5 minutes. If I purchase a rotator for an outdoor antenna what TV's if any would hold the previous scanned channels when scanning a new direction on the antenna? The TV will not allow manual programing HD channels and currently that is what I get. Are TV's available that HD can be programed?

Brian
7 months ago
Reply to  John Kirk

Hi John,

That is a great question. I don't know of any TVs that will hold previously scanned channels if you do a re-scan.

However, my old Sony Bravia TV _would_ let you manually enter new channels after scanning.

But, I just checked my new Samsung, and it does _not_ have a way (that I could find) to add channels manually.

This feature is not easily gleaned from the box or website specs. I would suggest going to a TV showroom and having the salesperson go through the TV menus to make sure there is a way to manually add channels before purchasing.

For now, you could try to use a coupler to point two antennas in the opposite directions to get both at the same time. If that works well, you won't need the rotator. See item #17 here:
https://www.disablemycable.com/blog/antenna-tips/

Best,
Brian

tom payne
tom payne
6 months ago
Reply to  Brian

Sony has a add on scan button, no loss of current channels.

Truetuft
Truetuft
8 months ago

I have a Hitachi Alpha Series 40 LCD HDTV with an external antenna hooked up. When I run channel search about a dozen stations come in that are viewable. That works great. But after watching an evening of TV I turn it off. The next day I turn on the TV again and it has "forgotten" all if the air channels. I have to re-run the channel scan every time. I've done this dozens of times and the TV never "remembers" the channels, i just get snow when I turn it back on.

Brian
8 months ago
Reply to  Truetuft

Hi Truetuft,

Unfortunately it sounds like there is a hardware problem with the TV. Sometimes memory is kept using a small internal battery which might have been drained. You'll have to take it in to get fixed.

Best,
Brian

margie
margie
9 months ago

Hi. I've had my indoor antenna for three years and it's been working fine. Today I can't get but 2 off the wall channels. I've tried scanning many times and moving the antenna. I unplugged it and scanned then plugged it back in and scanned. Help..

Linda  Nalepa
Linda Nalepa
10 months ago

All of a sudden I lost KDKA channel 2 tonight. At first it was not coming in when I turned my tv on, kept showing NO SIGNAL. Everything else was fine. I re scanned for channels and that's when I lost KDKA channel 2. I was able to find tv shows on channel 7.1 BUT I cannot get my channel 2 news. I'm picking up West Virginia!!!!! Can you help me????

dyanne2
dyanne2
6 months ago
Reply to  Linda Nalepa

I lose KDKA and the CW a lot. I got KDKA back but the CW is still gone.

Brian
6 months ago
Reply to  dyanne2

Dyanne2,

Here are some things to try to improve reception:
https://www.disablemycable.com/blog/antenna-tips/

Linda, note that KDKA on virtual channel 2 moved to UHF digital channel 25. If you have an older TV, try tuning to 25.1 to receive it.

Best,
Brian

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