TV Says No Signal but Cable Box Is On (Easy Fixes)

Like older televisions, the latest TVs are not exempt from signal issues. It is not uncommon to see the dreaded No Signal message displayed on your TV even when the cable box is on.

Dealing with a TV that says no signal but the cable box is on can be frustrating. After all, you can’t tell from the onset if the problem is with the telly or the cable box. Fortunately, you don’t have to go through this experience.

Here are a few proven ways to fix a TV that says no signal but the cable box is on:

TV Says No Signal but Cable Box Is On

1. Check the Cable Box

Before messing around with your TV and cable box configuration, confirm that the cable box is actually on. You might have been in a hurry to watch your favorite show only to forget to turn on the cable box.

Checking the current status of the gadget is easy since nearly all set-top boxes have indicator lights. A green or blue light shows the device is on, while a red light means the box is off.

cable box

Press the power button on the cable box or remote control to turn it on.

2. Verify Cable Connections

Faulty cables and loose connections can cause your TV to display a no signal message, even when the cable box is on.

As such, you need to confirm that all connections are firmly in the appropriate ports. You can also unplug your cables to ensure no loose wires. 

Alternatively, swap between different ports as the current one might have issues such as clogs or bent pins.

If you notice any bends and cracks on any cable, consider replacing it, as it could be damaged. Your cable box won’t transmit signals to your TV if the cable is defective.

No Signal but the Cable Box is On – Basic Troubleshooting Steps

3. Reboot the Cable Box

Like most electrical devices, your cable box might have bugs and hitches caused by delayed signals and electrostatic charge. It has a circuit board that experiences static buildup like any other system board. These hitches can cause your cable box to act up, leading to the “No Signal” message on your screen.

Rebooting your cable box can help refresh the system board and restore its functionality. It removes the bugs and hitches, ensuring your set-top receiver works as usual.

Here are the steps: 

  1. Unplug the power cord from the wall outlet
  2. Wait for 30-60 seconds
  3. Plug the power cord back
  4. Turn on your cable box
  5. Check if these steps resolve the issue

How to Reboot Your Cable Box

4. Check the Input Source

The latest TVs have numerous ports for video and audio connections. Setting the incorrect input source will cause your TV to say “No Signal” even if the cable box is on.

If your TV has more than one HDMI port, you must select the appropriate input source in the settings menu to solve no signal issues. The ports have designated numbers, like HDMI 1, HDMI 2, and HDMI 3, making it easy to set the proper input source.

HDMI input


  1. Press the SOURCE button on your remote control
  2. Use the arrow buttons to move up or down to the appropriate input source
  3. Press OK to set the input source

5. Reboot Your TV

If your TV still says no signal but the cable box is on, consider rebooting it. A simple TV reboot or soft reset can help fix various minor issues, including no signal problems.

You only need to:

  1. Unplug the power cord from the wall socket
  2. Wait for 60 seconds
  3. Plug the power cord back without using power strips or extensions
  4. Turn on your TV and check if these steps resolved the issue 

How to Reboot/Reset a Sony TV

6. Check for HDCP Errors

If your cable set-top box supports streaming services, it might require HDCP certification. HDCP, or High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection, is a copy-protection program for HDMI connections.

Your TV and Cable box must be HDCP-compliant to stream content from the web. If not, you might see an HDCP error or no signal message.

HDCP errors might also occur even if both your TV and cable box are HDCP-compliant. Fortunately, fixing this issue does not have to be complicated. 

Here are the steps:

  1. Unplug the HDMI cable from the TV and Cable box
  2. Turn off your TV
  3. Unplug the power cords from your TV and Cable box
  4. Reconnect the HDMI cables firmly into the appropriate ports
  5. Reconnect the power cords for each device
  6. Turn on the TV

Alternatively, you can bypass HDCP content restrictions using an HDMI splitter. Connect the HDMI cable from the cable box to the splitter and from the splitter to the TV. 

What is HDCP?

7. Check for Service Outages

Service outages are not uncommon, especially during bad weather.

Consider contacting your cable provider to find out if there’s any issue with the transmission. 

8. Replace the Cable Box

If the problem persists, check your cable box for damage and malfunctions. A defective cable box cannot transmit signals to your TV.

Common signs of a defective cable box include:

  • Flickering display
  • Discolored pictures 
  • No picture
  • No sound
  • Poor screen resolution

Even though you can repair a faulty cable box, you’ll eventually need to replace it since set-top boxes have an average lifespan of about three years.

Your provider may replace your damaged cable box for free or at a fee, depending on your subscription plan.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Why does my TV say no signal when cable is plugged in?

Answer: Your TV might say no signal when the cable is plugged in because you’ve selected the incorrect input source. Another possible reason is that your cable or satellite box is faulty. Weak signal strength can also cause your TV to display a “No Signal” message when the cable is plugged in.

Question: What input should the TV be on for cable?

Answer: The latest TVs use HDMI (High Definition Media Input) as the standard input source. The TVs have several HDMI ports, allowing you to connect various digital media players. HDMI provides better audio and visual quality than conventional AV ports.

Question: How do I get my TV back to cable?

Answer: You can get your TV back to cable by rebooting the TV and the cable box. You can reboot the set-top box and TV using the power button or the device’s remote control. You can also unplug the TV and the cable box directly from the wall outlet and re-plug the power cord after 30 seconds.

Question: How can you tell if your cable box is bad?

Answer: You can tell if your cable box is bad by testing it. Signs of a faulty cable box include discolored pictures, no picture, poor screen resolution, flickering display, and no sound. Your TV might also display a No Signal message even when the cable box is on. Some of these signs could also indicate that your HDMI cable is defective rather than the set-top box.

Question: How do I reboot my cable box?

Answer: Rebooting your cable box is easy. You only need to unplug the power cord from the wall outlet, wait for at least 30 seconds, then plug the cord back in. A reboot can help solve minor bugs and hitches by refreshing the set-top box.

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