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Some local channels changing frequencies

Millions of U.S. households that watch television using an antenna may need to rescan their TVs to continue receiving some of their local channels.

Nearly 1,000 TV stations across the nation are changing frequencies in phases through July 2020 to help make airwaves available for fast-growing high-speed mobile broadband services, such as 5G, according to the Federal Communications Commission, the agency overseeing this transition. The FCC says about half of the channels that are changing frequencies across the U.S. have done so already, with more channels changing frequencies in the future. Viewers who watch television using cable or satellite are unaffected by this change.

“While the channel numbers you see on the TV are not changing, TV viewers who use a rooftop or indoor antenna will need to rescan their televisions to update to the new frequencies so they can continue receiving those channels,” said FCC Incentive Auction Task Force Chair Jean Kiddoo. “It is the same process as when you first set up your digital TV or converter box.”

Local television stations that are changing frequencies will provide at least 30 days’ notice to viewers of their “rescan day” — the day that they should rescan for a local channel’s new frequency. If viewers notice a channel that they are used to seeing is missing, they should rescan using the TV or converter box remote.

While television remote control features and buttons vary by manufacturer, most viewers will just need to find “auto tune,” “program,” or “rescan” in the “setup” menu of their remote control to start the scanning process.

In some markets, stations are changing frequencies at different dates, and viewers may need to rescan their TVs more than once throughout this transition to ensure they continue to receive available channels. Viewers who watch television with an antenna may also be surprised at the number of channels available if they have not rescanned recently.

The FCC provides online resources and a dedicated consumer call center to help over-the-air TV viewers rescan, and is reaching out to consumers nationwide to let them know about the changes that are taking place.

“As an over-the-air TV viewer myself, I know that consumers sometimes need extra help re-scanning their televisions when local broadcast stations add channels or change frequencies,” said Kiddoo. “That’s why it’s so important to make both online information and telephone assistance, like the consumer help line, available to viewers during the ongoing broadcast transition.”

Viewers can visit www.fcc.gov/TVrescan to learn more about the process, view an instructional video and get tips on how to rescan their televisions. Viewers can also call 1-888-CALLFCC (1-888-225-5322) for additional help on how to rescan.

To find out when television stations in your area are transitioning to new frequencies, viewers can enter their zip code or city on the FCC’s interactive map at fcc.gov/media/engineering/dtvmaps.