Happiness is a Warm TV

Why you lost local channels after Rescan Day, and when you can expect to get them back

Last week’s “Rescan Day,” the day when TV antenna users were to rescan their TVs to find the new frequencies for local channels, wasn’t as simple a process as the FCC led consumers to believe.

In fact, even after rescanning several times on or after the Sept. 11 date advertised, many local viewers still lost channels that simply would not return.

The reason for the problem in most cases is due to the fact that local stations had to install temporary transmitters and antennas that are smaller and less powerful, and can’t reach as many people. Those systems are in place while the stronger antennas are dismantled and replaced.

That is going to take some time.

WRAL reported on the problem over the weekend, advising viewers that their signal would return once the station’s new antenna was in place, sometime in October.

North Carolina PBS stations are having the same antenna and transmitter issues.

UNC-TV engineer Jayme Hanzak said their main antenna is at 1300 feet. The temporary antenna is at 700 feet.

“The lower you are, the more terrain becomes an effect,” he said. “We’re working feverishly to get everything up to full power and get all of our antennas sorted out.”

Butch Saul, the director of field operations at UNC-TV, said the process could be a long one for them, because UNC-TV has 12 full-power stations and 11 of those are affected by the frequency change.

Because UNC-TV has so many towers and transmitters to replace, the project timeline has a completion date of March 2020. Saul said that due to logistics, the Asheville station, WUNF, will likely be the first station to get back in business with a full-strength antenna and transmitter. He had no timeline for other stations, including WUNC-TV out of Chapel Hill.

WNCN (CBS17), another channel local viewers reported losing, is having the same antenna problem, but with an additional wrinkle.

In the case of CBS 17, vice president and general manager Byron Grandy told The News & Observer that disruption could also be because the station switched from a UHF channel to VHF.

“This could impact folks who have been using an antenna specifically designed for UHF reception,” Grandy said. “If folks are having difficulty receiving us or other VHF frequencies, it could be an antenna issue.”

WTVD / ABC11 is also a VHF frequency.

Last week’s rescan was for WRAL (NBC), WNCN (CBS), WRAZ (Fox), WUVC (Univision), WUNC (PBS UNC-TV), WHFL (Religious) and WRDC (My Network TV).

The frequency change WTVD (ABC 11) will take place at a later date.

The reason for the frequency changes is to make room for new 5G and other mobile broadband services.

Trouble-shooting tips

A story on the WRAL website suggested unplugging the existing antenna and doing another scan. This should clear the memory on the TV. Then plug the antenna back into the TV and scan again. In some cases, we’ve heard from readers that this has been enough to bring the channel back.

CBS 17 shared the troubleshooting tips they are sending to viewers. Those tips are below.

1. Adjust the placement and/or location of your antenna, pointing as best as possible toward Garner. Then re-scan your channels again. You may need to adjust the antenna and scan multiple times.

2. Purchase a signal line amplifier. Amplifying the gain of the antenna may help strengthen the signal. (You can purchase these from Amazon or from electronics stores like Best Buy.)

3. If you have multiple televisions, try scanning each one. If they are on individual antennas, they may have different outcomes.

4. Check to see if your antenna works for both UHF and VHF stations. Some flat panel antennas may not be capable of properly picking up VHF signals such as those from CBS 17 and WTVD (ABC 11). If you think you may need a new antenna, try this resource: antennaweb.org/Address.

Grandy says if viewers are still having trouble with CBS 17 after trying all of these steps, they should follow the link here and report the problem: forms.gle/LVAM63oGnRDJHCoD7.

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Brooke Cain is a North Carolina native who has worked at The News & Observer for more than 20 years. She writes about TV and local media for the Happiness is a Warm TV blog, and answers CuriousNC questions for readers.