Why Do Digital TV Channels Disappear? (Troubleshooting Tips)

Following the digital television transition over a decade ago, analog TVs have become obsolete, with full-power TV stations broadcasting digital signals only.

You require a digital TV or a DTV converter box to scan for channels and watch your favorite TV shows.

Digital televisions have numerous benefits ranging from superior picture and audio quality to efficient bandwidth usage.

Even though digital TVs have fairly consistent reception over longer distances, your saved channels might disappear unexpectedly for various reasons, forcing you to scan them again.

Re-tuning your digital TV can be frustrating, especially if you have to do it repeatedly, as it ruins your entertainment experience.

This post explains why digital TV channels disappear and how to fix this issue. 

Why Do Digital TV Channels Disappear

1. Antenna Installation Problems

Whether you are using an indoor or outdoor antenna, improper installation can cause digital TV channels to disappear unexpectedly after saving them on your telly.

If you notice your antenna is the cause of the problem, you only need to re-install it correctly. 

Here are the steps: 

  1. Find an appropriate location to place the antenna, preferably near a window
  2. Point the antenna in the direction of the nearest broadcast transmitter
  3. Check the signal strength from the channel settings menu on your TV

Installing an outdoor antenna can be tricky (and potentially risky) since you must mount it on your wall or roof and position it appropriately to discover more digital channels.

As such, consider hiring a professional to avoid potential dangers.

How to Install an Outdoor TV Antenna

How to Install an Indoor Antenna

2. Faulty or Broken Antenna

A faulty or broken antenna can cause some digital TV channels to disappear. 

After all, the antenna is the interface between your TV and the broadcast transmitter. It receives signals from the transmitter before relaying them to your TV.

The strength and quality of digital signals received by your TV will depend on the antenna’s condition.

If the antenna is faulty, damaged, or missing some components, it won’t pick digital channels effectively, and you’ll notice some channels have disappeared.

Even though you can repair your broken antenna, the cheapest and most effective solution is to replace it.

Best Antennas to Buy in 2022

TV Antennas to Avoid when Buying an Antenna

3. Disconnected or Loose Cables

Disconnected or loose cables are another possible reason for disappearing digital TV channels.

Defective HDMI cables from the TV set-up box or satellite receiver can also cause your digital TV channels to disappear.

In most cases, your TV will display a “no signal” message if the cable is improperly connected or damaged.

Besides losing channels, your TV might also flicker or display degraded pictures, making it difficult to rescan available channels. 

Check your cable connections to ensure they are firmly in place and the appropriate RF input port. 

Test and replace damaged HDMI cables before re-tuning and saving your favorite digital TV channels.

damaged HDMI connector4. Poor Reception

Your TV’s ability to store your scanned digital channels depends on the signal strength and quality. 

Since TV signals move in a straight line, they are more prone to interference, leading to frequent dropouts and poor reception, eventually causing your digital TV channels to disappear.

You can improve your reception and prevent channels from disappearing unexpectedly by installing a TV signal booster or amplifier.

Everything You Need to Know About Antenna Amplifiers

Alternatively, you can reposition your outdoor antenna and mount it higher away from obstacles.

If the poor signals are a result of bad weather, you must wait for the conditions to improve before checking if the channels are back.

How to Improve Reception for Indoor TV Antenna

5. Malfunctioning Digital Converter Box

Digital TV channels can also disappear randomly because of a faulty or malfunctioning digital converter box.

Like most digital receivers, your converter box might develop minor glitches caused by signal delays and electrostatic buildup.

These bugs and glitches can cause the digital converter box to act up, leading to missing TV channels.

Resetting the converter box can help solve the problem. Here are the steps:

  1. Turn off your TV
  2. Unplug your converter box from the TV
  3. Wait for at least 30 seconds
  4. Reconnect the converter box to the TV
  5. Turn on your TV and check if the channels are back
  6. Perform a fresh scan to find the missing channels

If a soft reset doesn’t solve the issue, you must perform a factory reset:

  1. Turn on your TV
  2. Connect your converter box to your TV and turn it on
  3. Go to the function menu
  4. Select Factory Reset
  5. Enter your PIN when prompted
  6. Wait for the reset process to complete
  7. Set up your converter box afresh and scan for new channels

6. TV Station Channel Moves

The Federal Communications Commission sometimes requires local TV stations to change their broadcast frequencies and make room for wireless carriers.

However, TV station channel moves only apply to users using indoor or outdoor antennas rather than cable and satellite boxes.

If your digital TV channels disappear unexpectedly, you might be a victim of these changes.

The only solution to this issue is to perform a fresh channel scan using these simple steps:

  1. Turn on your TV
  2. Press the MENU button on your remote control
  3. Select the gear icon to launch TV settings
  4. Select channel settings
  5. Choose channel scan or auto-tune
  6. Your digital TV will automatically scan available channels

How to Scan for Channels on a Samsung Smart TV

7. Expired Subscription

Your Pay TV service provider may encrypt premium channels over unpaid bills, and you can only get them back after settling the payment.

Ensure your Pay TV plans are up to date as far as payments are concerned to avoid any inconveniences.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: How do I get my channels back on my digital TV?

Answer: The quickest way to get your missing channels back on your digital TV is to perform a rescan. However, ensure your antenna is properly installed and cables are firmly in place to prevent the issue from reoccurring.

When (and When Not) to Run a Rescan

Question: What do you do when a TV loses channels?

Answer: If your TV loses channels, you can manually add them back. Go to your TV’s setup menu and select manual scan under channel settings to select your preferred frequency range.

Question: Why do my free over-the-air channels keep disappearing?

Answer: Your free over-the-air channels might keep on disappearing because of poor reception, signal interference, faulty antenna, TV station changes, or malfunctioning converter box.

Question: Why do I have to keep re-tuning my TV?

Answer: You may have to rescan your TV if you’ve recently moved to a new neighborhood, your local station has changed the frequency number, or your provider has added new channels.

Question: Do you need an antenna to scan local digital channels?

Answer: If you don’t have a satellite receiver or cable set-top box, you require an antenna to scan local digital channels on your TV.

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