Consumer Reports: Why it's time to rescan your TV antenna

With more and more people cutting the cord and looking for cheaper ways to watch TV, antennas have made a comeback. Consumer Reports explains why a little antenna upkeep will keep you from losing any of your favorite channels.

Imagine getting dozens of TV channels for free. Depending on where you live, that's exactly what a TV antenna can give you: Broadcast channels from the major networks, and maybe a few channels from networks you've never heard of. But you have to perform some easy maintenance with your remote control. It's called rescanning.

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

It's something you should do about once a month. Why? If it was a cloudy or rainy day when you did your original scan, you may not be getting all the channels available to you. And, some stations are adding subchannels, which could include a mix of classic TV shows, weather and foreign-language programming.

So, how exactly do you rescan?

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

If you can't find it anywhere else, try hitting the source or input button on your remote. And then select antenna. You'll most likely have the option of auto or manual scan. Consumer Reports suggests auto scan.

"Auto scan will just automatically look for all the channels that are available in your area," said Willcox.

Although rescanning has always been a good idea, it's even more important now.

"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," Willcox said. "As a result of that, about a thousand TV stations had to move their frequencies."

And that transition won't be complete until next summer, so make sure you rescan every once in a while.

Consumer Reports also says you don't have to worry about losing your favorite channels! None of your channel numbers will change, just the frequencies the signals are sent over.

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