How to Do a TV Channel Scan

If you receive TV programs via an antenna, periodically run a channel scan

LG TV Channel Guide Example

If you receive TV programming via antenna, as part of the TV setup process a channel scan is performed. However, that might not be the last time you need to do this. To continue to receive all your favorite channels, you may need to do periodic channel scan.

How to Know if You Need to Do a New Channel Scan

If you've been watching broadcast programs via antenna for a while, here are two reception clues that will indicate that you will need to perform a new channel scan.

  1. A favorite channel that you have been watching successfully now breaks up or seems to have disappeared resulting in your TV displaying a "no signal" message on the screen.
  2. A message crawl on a TV channel you are watching informs you that the channel is moving and that you need to do a channel scan to continue to receive it as of a certain date.

Reasons Your TV Channel Reception Might Change

  • TV Repack: Over 1,000 TV stations in the US are in the process of changing their over-the-air broadcast frequencies. Referred to as the "TV Repack", the process officially began in November 2018 and is expected to last until late 2020 (and possibly beyond). The reason for the TV station moving is to make room for the implementation of the ATSC 3.0 (NextGen) TV broadcast system and 5G mobile communication frequency requirements.

The TV repack doesn't affect cable or satellite TV subscribers unless otherwise notified by your service. In that case, they will provide you with information regarding any required procedures or equipment changes on your end. 

  • TV Station Transmitter Location: In addition to changes in broadcast frequency, some TV stations may also physically move their transmission tower locations to better accommodate the new TV broadcasting conditions in their location.
  • TV Antenna Location: Even if there aren't any changes in your local TV station's transmission frequency or location, the TV channel scanning process needs to be performed when you move the antenna to a different location within your residence or move to a new residence.
  • Installing a New Antenna: If you install a different antenna, such as switching from a non-amplified to an amplified unit, or switching from an indoor to an outdoor model, rescanning might provide access to channels that you weren't able to receive previously.

TV Channel Scan Steps

The on-screen steps provided to do a channel scan varies depending on brand/model and year of TV, but let's take a look at some examples you may encounter that may be similar to your specific TV. 

Samsung TVs

The steps for running a channel scan on a Samsung TV are very easy to follow.

  1. On the TV's Home Page (Smart Hub), select Settings (the gear icon), which is usually located on the bottom left of the screen.

    Samsung TV – Home Page with Settings Highlighted
    Settings Icon from Wikimedia Commons
  2. Within the Settings category, select the Broadcasting option.

    Samsung TV – Settings Page – Broadcasting Selected
  3. Within the Broadcasting option, select Auto Program.

    Samsung TV – Broadcasting Page – Auto Program Selected
  4. Within the Auto Program option select Start.

    Samsung TV – Auto Program Start
  5. After selecting Start a new screen will verify that the TV is Scanning for channels.

    Samsung TV – Channel Scanning in Progress
  6. When the Channel Scan is completed, the screen will display a message telling you how many channels were found. If you close the screen, you can start viewing your antenna channels.

In the image below, the number of actual antenna channels found is 15. The category referred to as "TV Plus" is an internet-based live channel option that Samsung provides on select 2016 models going forward to the present and is not part of the channel scanning process.

Samsung TV – Channel Scan Complete

LG TVs

LG refers to its channel scanning process as Auto Channel Tuning or Channel Tuning. It has more steps than Samsung TVs but has very good visual prompts.

  1. Press Home Button on the remote.

    LG TV Remote – Home Button Highlighted
  2. Go to Settings.

    LG TV Home Page – Settings Highlighted
    Settings Icon by Wikimedia Commons
  3. Go to All Settings.

    LG TV Home Page – All Settings Highlighted
  4. Go to Channels.

    LG TV Settings – Channels Highlighted
  5. Select Channel Tuning.

    LG TV Settings – Channel Tuning Highlighted
  6. Select Start.

    LG TV – Start Channel Tuning Process
  7. After clicking on Start the Channel Scan (Auto Tuning process) runs. When completed, you will see a message that Auto Tuning is completed. Hit done and start watching programs.

    LG TV – Start Channel Tuning Completed

Fire Edition TVs

If you own a Fire Edition TV, not only does it have the complete Amazon Fire TV system built-in, along with Alexa voice control, but you can receive over-the-air TV broadcasts with an Antenna. If you need to perform a channel scan, here are the steps.

  1. Select Settings on the Fire Edition TV Home Page.

    Fire Edition TV – Home Page – Settings Highlighted
  2.  In Settings, select Live TV.

    Fire Edition TV – Settings Page - Live TV Highlighted
  3. In Live TV select Channel Scan.

    Fire Edition TV – Live TV Page – Channel Scan Highlighted
  4. In Channel Scan select Next to activate the Channel Scanning process to find all available channels that can be received by your antenna.

    Fire Edition TV – Live TV Page – Channel Scan
  5. After you hit next, the channel scanning process runs, you will see an onscreen notification when Channel Scanning is complete.

    Fire Edition TV – Live TV Page – Channel Scan Completed

Roku TVs

Similar to Fire Edition TVs, Roku TVs not only provide access to thousands of streaming channels, but you can use an antenna to watch over-the-air TV broadcasts.

On the downside, if you need to do a channel scan, there are a lot of steps, but they are easy to follow.

  1. Open the Roku TV Home Page.

    Roku TV Home Page
  2. On the home page, scroll down to the Settings category.

    Roku TV Home Page Menu – Settings Selected
  3. Within the settings category, select TV Inputs.

    Roku TV Settings – TV Inputs Selected
  4. Open the TV Inputs category.

    Roku TV Settings – TV Inputs
  5. Within the TV inputs category, select Antenna TV.

    Roku TV Settings – TV Inputs - Antenna TV Selected
  6. Open the Antenna TV category.

    Roku TV Settings – Antenna TV
  7. Within the Antenna TV category, select Scan for Channels.

    Roku TV Settings – Antenna TV – Scan for Channels Selected
  8. Open the Scan for Channels Category.

    Roku TV Settings - Scan for Channels
  9. Withing the Scan for Channels category, select Start Finding Channels.

    Roku TV Settings - Scan for Channels - Start Finding Channels
  10. After select Start Finding Channels, you will be taken to an Antenna TV screen. Select Start Finding Channels.

    Roku TV Settings - Scan for Channels - Start Finding Channels
  11. The next screen asks whether you have a device connected between the Antenna and the TV. If not select NO.

    Roku TV Settings - Scan for Channels - Device Confirmation
  12. The Roku TV starts the Antenna TV channel scan.

    Roku TV Settings - Channel Scan Running
  13. Once the Channel Scan is done, the number of channels found is displayed and a Done Prompt appears.

In addition to the Done prompt, there is also a prompt that allows you to set up Roku TV's Live TV Pause features. If you plug in a compatible USB flash drive, you will be able to pause Live TV for up to 90 minutes without the need for a DVR.

Roku TV Settings - Channel Scan Done Page

TVs May Not Be the Only Devices That Need a Channel Scan

In addition to TVs, if you use other devices to receive over-the-TV broadcast signals for viewing and/or recording, such as an OTA DVR, DVD recorder with DTV tuner, or analog TV or VCR with DTV Converter box, you may need to rescan your channels periodically. Although the onscreen menus may look slightly different, the steps are similar to those shown above for TVs. 

Here is an example of the Channel Scanning process on a TIVO Bolt OTA DVR

  1. Tap the TIVO icon on the remote control (looks like a TV with rabbit ears). This will take you to the TIVO Bolt OTA homepage.

    TIVO Bolt OTA – TIVO Icon Highlighted
  2. On the TIVO Bolt OTA homepage, select Menu.

    TIVO Bolt Home Page – Settings Menu Selected
  3. In Menu, select Settings > Channel Settings.

    TIVO Bolt – Settings > Channel Settings Selected
  4. On the Channels Settings page, select Antenna Channel Scan.

    TIVO Channel Settings > Antenna Channel Scan
  5. On the Antenna Channel Scan page, select Scan for New Channels.

    TIVO Bolt — Scan for New Channels
  6. Upon selecting Scan for New Channels, the TIVO Bolt OTA will start the scanning process.

    TIVO Bolt – Channel Scan Running
  7. When the channel scan is complete a channel list page will display. The channels that are checked are the ones that were found. 

TIVO lists all the channels in your geographical area (in this case, San Diego and Los Angeles, CA), but only the ones checked after a channel scan can be received by your specific antenna setup.

TIVO Bolt – Channel Scan Complete – Channel List