Monday, February 07, 2011

Where Did My Channels Go?

Now that we all have converted to the digital broadcast TV system in the US either by subscribing to a cable or satellite service or by purchasing a digital TV or converter, all should be well with the video world. Well, not quite yet. There are still a few bugs in the system. Let me try to give you some hints on solving two of the most prevalent issues.

Hardly a week passes that someone doesn’t ask me about disappearing TV channels. This is a problem experienced by individuals receiving broadcast TV using an antenna. The story usually goes something like this. “I was watching (fill in your favorite channel here) last night. When I turned on the TV today, the channel was gone and I got a message on the screen saying ‘no signal.’”

A digital TV must have stored in its memory certain technical information about each of the broadcast channels it receives. This information is loaded the first time you plug in the TV set and go through the set up process. This information is supposed to remain in the TV’s memory forever, but this does not always happen. On some TVs, the loss of electrical power will erase the memory. On other models, pressing a certain combination of buttons on the remote will erase the memory. Still other TVs seem to have a mind of their own and just drop one or more channels from memory for no apparent reason.

If you were receiving a channel one day and it is gone the next,, the fix is easy. You only need to do a channel rescan. If you still have your TV’s owner’s manual you will find directions. If not, just go to the on-screen menu and look for the “adding channels” or “scanning for channels” function. Even if you only lost one channel, I recommend doing a complete re-scan. If all else fails, bake some cookies and call a teenager to help.

For those of us with cable, many experience intermittent audio synch, or lip synch problems. When this happens it can be painful to watch a show. While there are several reasons that you might experience this problem, they are too complicated to go into here. Nevertheless there is an easy fix. I have found that on certain cable set top boxes, powering the boxes down, i.e., turning them off for 10 seconds, rather than unplugging them, will fix the problem. This will also work for some digital TV sets not connected to a cable set top box.

There is no doubt that the sound and pictures on today’s digital flat screen TVs have never been better. Nevertheless, there remain a few bugs that can be really irritating. I hope this helps. Keep the questions coming.


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