Monday, April 19, 2010

Where Did My Stations Go?

I have been getting questions about why some or all of the TV stations are disappearing from TVs that receive the channels over-the-air using an antenna. The stories are all the same. One day the person can watch all the local channels and change channels using the Up / Down button on the remote. The next day all or some of the channels are gone and the screen has a message indicating that “no signal is found.” This can be frustrating and very inconvenient if you are sitting down after a long day ready to relax with your favorite TV program.

The problem is not with the local broadcasters. The problem is indeed in your set.
Once you understand what has happened it is easily fixed.

Digital TVs and DTV set top converters all have a built-in memory. For the devices to tune in the over-the-air stations they must have in that memory certain information about the individual TV stations. This information, once gathered, is stored in memory circuits built into the devices. Some TVs have memory chips that must have electrical power to retain the information. Since power is required, if there is an interruption in the power the chip loses its memory. I know at my house hardly a week goes by without some interruption in Duke’s service. We had two last week. Often the outages are short but there are occasions when they do last an hour or more.

You don’t have to have a power failure. I know of one person who used the outlet supplying power to her TV for her vacuum cleaner. Each time she cleaned her living room she would unplug her DTV converter box. When she wanted to watch TV, the channels were gone.

Another person was very conscientious about saving energy so every time he was done watching TV he turned off all the power by using a power strip with an on/off switch. His laudable green lifestyle did not mesh well with his digital TV set as he lost all his channels every time he finished watching for the night.

Fixing this problem is simple. All you need do is rescan for channels. On most digital TVs and DTV converters, this “scan function” will be found by pressing “menu” on your remote. Every TV has different terms for this function but if you look for terms like “channel set up” or “auto program” I am sure you will find it.

Most high quality TVs and set top converters have memory chips that do not require them to be powered all the time. These models not only more reliably maintain the memory, they also save energy.

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