Changes to over-the-air TV signals

Feb. 8, 2019
by Mark Ollig

Soon, many local TV stations in cities across the US will begin changing their over-the-air broadcast channel frequencies.

Per a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) order, these changes are to be completed by July 2020.

According to the FCC, the reason for the change is to open the digital airwaves for new high-speed wireless services.

A television broadcaster is required to provide its viewers a 30-day notice before their frequency change occurs.

The FCC order changing channel frequencies might remind you of 2009, when over-the-air broadcast channels switched from analog to digital signaling, requiring many folks to buy converter boxes to use on their analog television sets.

There will be no buying of converter boxes this time. The upcoming over-the-air change will only require a rescan of your TV channels.

If you watch free over-the-air television with an antenna, you will need to rescan your TV set channel availability each time an individual station moves its channel to a new frequency in order to continue receiving the channel’s broadcast.

Note, the actual channel number on your TV will not change, so channel 45 will remain channel 45 after the rescan updates its broadcast frequency.

If you do not use over-the-air digital television signals and are a subscriber to a cable or satellite TV service provider, you do not need to perform the TV rescan. Your service provider will do this.

“Good-bye to analog broadcast TV” was a column I wrote Oct. 23, 2006.

The Congress of the United States had passed a law specifying Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2009, as the deadline for all television broadcast stations to end over-the-air transmission of analog signals and convert to digital television signaling.

Digital over-the-air broadcast television took over the center seat, sending analog over-the-air broadcast television into retirement.

In the months ahead, TV channels will be changing their over-the-air broadcast channel frequencies; however, not all at the same time, so your TV may need to be rescanned more than once.

The FCC’s website provides an interactive TV reception map where you can check the frequency change timeframe for the local channels in your viewing area.

Your specific information can be seen by typing in your street address including city and state, or only city and state, or your viewing ZIP Code at this link: https://www.fcc.gov/media/engineering/dtvmaps.

I entered ZIP Code 55395 (Winsted). The results showed a map, along with information on each over-the-air local station viewable for 55395, including call sign, network, and channel. The IA (Incentive Auction) will show an “R” next to channels changing frequencies.

Note, the FCC will update the IA (R) information as it becomes available.

The 55395 over-the-air stations, call sign, network, and channel number showing “strong” digital signal coverage include:




WUCW- CW 23;

WFTC- MY N 29;

KTCA-TV- PBS 2; and


More information about each station, including new channel frequency repack dates, will be seen when you click on its hyperlinked call sign.

Channel 45 will be changing its channel frequency between April 13, 2019 and June 21, 2019.

Channel 41 shows it changed its channel frequency between March 23, 2018 and June 1, 2018.

Other 55395 over-the-air stations with “moderate” coverages include: KTCI-TV PBS channel 17, KARE NBC channel 11, and KMSP-TV FOX channel 9. These stations, as of this writing, have no updated channel frequency changes.

There are also no changes (so far) for KEYC-TV CBS channel 12 out of Mankato, which the FCC says has a “weak” over-the-air signal in Winsted.

The FCC reminds us that all full-power television stations in the US are broadcast in digital only.

For more information on how to rescan your over-the-air TV channels, visit https://www.fcc.gov/rescan.

The National Association of Broadcasters webpage also provides helpful information on the changes at http://tvanswers.org.

As always, be sure to check out my weblog: https://bitscolumn.blogspot.com.

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