In 2009, the digital TV conversion had a big impact on television watchers who relied on antennas for their signal – many of those impacted were seniors. Locally, Council on Aging (COA) led the effort to help seniors make the transition to digital TV, providing phone and in-home assistance to more than 4,200 older adults. Seniors had trouble purchasing and installing the digital TV converter box. To help, COA distributed donated converter box coupons and digital TV equipment.
Now, 10 years after the digital TV conversion, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is once again making changes that will have an impact on viewers who are not connected to cable or satellite systems – people who use antennas to access local TV stations for free. This will include seniors in COA’s service area.
The FCC (which regulates public airwaves) recently reallocated some TV airwaves to make more airwaves available for wireless services. That process requires some local TV stations to move from one frequency to another.
What does this mean for you? If you use an antenna to watch television for free, you will need to rescan your TV on October 18 at 10am. Rescanning is when your TV finds all of the available channels in your area. To do this, select “scan” or “autotune” from your TV menu. You likely do not need to purchase new equipment or services, and the channel numbers you know will not change. If you haven’t scanned your TV in a while, you might find channels you didn’t know you were even missing.
Locally, WXIX 19, WCPO 9, WLWT 5 and WCET 48, are some of the stations moving to new frequencies. You can visit TVAnswers.org for more information. The site includes helpful how tos on how to rescan your TV, as well as information about which local stations are changing and when. You can also sign up to receive a reminder to rescan your TV.
You can also contact the FCC hotline at 1-888-CALLFCC (1-888-225-5322) and press “6” to speak to a help desk representative. The call center is staffed from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. Eastern time, seven days a week.
Maintaining access to local TV is important for people who are not connected to satellite or cable. It’s their connection to critical local news, weather and emergency information, not to mention regular programming.