5 On Your Side

Have an antenna? You may want to rescan to get more channels

Posted April 15, 2019 7:21 p.m. EDT

— Television antennas are back in demand as more and more people are looking for cheaper ways to watch TV.

Depending on where you live, by using an antenna you can get the major networks, and maybe a few channels you've never heard of.

But, to make sure you get them, you'll need to rescan.

“Rescanning really is simply just having your TV tuner do an update to see if there are more channels that are available," said Jim Willcox, Consumer Reports tech editor.

Some stations, including WRAL, have added subchannels, which could include a mix of classic TV shows, weather and foreign-language programming.

Plus, there's another reason rescanning is more important than ever.

“A couple of years ago, the FCC held a spectrum auction, and they freed up some of the broadcast TV frequencies to make room for high-speed wireless services. As a result of that, about a thousand TV stations had to move their frequencies," Wilcox said.

That transition won’t be complete until next summer, so Consumer Reports recommends rescanning about once a month.

“Every TV has its own way of doing a scan. The main thing is that you should look for something called channel scan or channel tuning. That could be in the main menu, [or] that could be under TV settings," Wilcox said.

If you can’t find it anywhere else, try hitting the source or input button on your remote, then select antenna. If you have a choice of auto or manual scan, Consumer Reports suggests auto scan.

And experts say rescanning on a cloudy or rainy day may impact what channels are available.

During a scan, channel numbers don't change, just the frequencies the signals are sent over.