Oh No, FCC Changes Channels: What to Do With All Those Off-Air Antennas

Get ready to re-scan most off-air TV antennas as new FCC changes force broadcast channels to change frequencies.

Oh No, FCC Changes Channels: What to Do With All Those Off-Air Antennas

Now might be the time to reach out to customers and explain how to rescan their electronics. Alternatively, offer to set up an appointment and bill them at normal service rates.

Remember a couple of years ago when there was a kerfuffle in the microphone world about selected radio frequencies no longer being available for wireless systems?  At the time, CE Pro published an article about it, and folks who were looking at wireless systems hopefully purchased the right products for the job at hand. 

At the time, the frequencies in question were auctioned off for a number of purposes, chief amongst those was making room for the new 5G cellular telephone networks. An offshoot of that auction is coming home to roost fairly soon for people who use off-air antennas to receive their television programs.

The FCC has mandated, and some (not all) local channels are scheduled to start complying any minute now, that the frequency a channel was broadcast on must change to a new frequency.

What the heck does this mean? It means that in selected markets around the US, when Mr. and Mrs. Smith go to watch their local TV news, Bob the weatherman won’t appear. Your phone will ring, and the Smiths will be unhappy. 

It’s not your fault.

What needs to happen, simply, is that the television needs to be re-scanned to identify the new frequencies and put them in the electronic memory of the television. You’ll do that for every TV and off-air tuner in the residence, and after re-scanning, you’ll test to see if channel 4 (for example) shows up.

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It’s a safe bet that if the problem happens with one off-air antenna user in your area, all will have the same issue.

You may want to consider sending a note to the customers, explaining how they can rescan their electronics, or set an appointment and have you do it at your normal billable service rates.

Here’s a link to the FCC website that will allow you to determine whether this will be an issue for you soon.

About the Author

Fred Harding
Fred Harding:

Fred Harding is in sales and technical support at Capitol Sales, a full service distributor of electronic installation hardware. He is a frequent contributor to CE Pro, writing hands-on product reviews and technical tips.