Antenna TV viewers must rescan sets soon



Mahoning Valley residents who watch television for free by using an antenna will have to rescan their sets after Aug. 2 in order to continue receiving local channels.

The rescan was made necessary because Congress mandated that the FCC auction off unused broadcast spectrum. About 1,000 stations – including each one in the Youngstown market – are being forced to change frequencies under the order. These stations were “repacked” into a lower block of frequencies, which makes the rescan necessary.

The frequencies that were vacated will go to wireless providers that submitted winning bids in the auction to improve broadband service.

The FCC created a transition plan with 10 phases – which started in September 2018 and end in July 2020 – for the repacked stations.

Most of the Youngstown area’s stations are in phase 4, which has an end date of Aug. 2. These include WFMJ, WKBN and WYTV, which will change frequencies at 2 p.m. that day.

Western Reserve PBS channel 45 (Youngstown) will change frequency on or near March 13, 2020. Many viewers in the Youngstown area also get Western Reserve PBS WEAO (channel 49), which will change its frequency on Aug. 2.

For information on the changes and what to do, go to

Here are some general questions that Valley TV viewers might ask, with answers provided by Bob Fils, chief engineer of 21 WFMJ-TV:

Who must rescan the stations on their TV set?: Only viewers that use an indoor or outdoor antenna to watch the local TV stations. For people with cable or satellite, their provider will make the change for them, so they do not need to take any action. Some people who subscribe to cable or satellite may have TV sets in their house that are not connected to their provider, and these sets will have to be rescanned to continue receiving the local TV stations.

When should they rescan?: Antenna TV users should wait to rescan until after 2 p.m. Aug. 2. They should also rescan for several days afterward in case some stations didn’t make the deadline. After that, rescanning on a regular basis is a good idea. There will still be station changes through July and August of next year.

What exactly do they have to do?: Using the remote control for their TV, select Channels, Autotune or Scan from the setup menu. The TV will rescan and find the channels on their new frequencies. Viewers may have to reorient an indoor antenna and try the scan again.

What happens if people don’t rescan?: If they don’t rescan and the “old” frequency gets turned off, they will no longer be able to receive that local TV station. It is important to note that the channel numbers viewers are used to seeing will still be the same.

Has this ever happened before?: This is a first. There has never been a broadcast spectrum auction of this magnitude and complexity.

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