Broadcast television is undergoing a change in Jacksonville this week that will affect anyone who receives local TV signals over the air with an antenna.
On Thursday, antenna TV users will need to rescan their channels.
That's because the Federal Communications Commission has mandated that broadcasters move to different frequencies to accommodate 5G and other high-speed mobile data services that also need part of the broadcast spectrum.
Even though frequencies are changing, the channels you know, such as PBS on WJCT TV 7.1, will stay the same.
Broadcasters have the option of keeping their channel labels, which most, including WJCT, will do.
Viewers will need to use their TV’s rescan feature to pick up the new frequencies when they arrive home Thursday evening.
“Once you start the process, it usually takes a little bit of time, so be patient and wait and let it finish its job,” said WJCT Chief Engineer Alan Rhodes.
The process to rescan TV signals varies a little from TV to TV.
This link provides instructions on how to rescan your channels for the majority of TV sets.
After users do a rescan, it’s possible one or more Jacksonville TV stations may seem to disappear.
If that happens, Rhodes suggests trying following troubleshooting steps:
“Sometimes external antennas get water on the connections, internal antennas come loose. If you've checked all your connections and you're getting the strongest signal you can and you have an internal antenna, you may want to move it to a new location," he said.
For example, if you have a TV antenna behind your TV, try moving it to the left or right and then rescan again if all the channels don’t come back on the first try.
Cable and satellite customers don’t need to do anything.
TV frequencies are being moved a few at time. The following channels will be moving to new frequencies on Thursday, January 14:
- WCWJ - CW Television Network 17
- WJEB-TV - Trinity Broadcasting Network 59
- WJXT – News4Jax - Independent 4
- WBXJ-CD - SonLife Broadcasting Network 43
- WQXT-CD - Retro Television Network 22
WJCT, which has channels on 7.1 (PBS), 7.2 (Create), 7.3 (PBS Kids), 7.4 (More!) and 7.5 (World) will not be moving Thursday.
Related: WJCT TV schedule
The FCC has scheduled WJCT to move in what’s known as Phase 9, which will be sometime between March 14 and May 1.
Getting free over-the-air television has started growing again in popularity since the advent of streaming services such as PBS Passport, Netflix and others. Many who choose streaming services have dropped cable TV.
Free over-the-air broadcast television in most cases has a slightly better picture than cable or satellite, according to Rhodes.
That’s because the signal isn’t as compressed, meaning more individual pixels are shown during fine movements such as those in an athletic event or action movie.
WJCT has put together a FAQ page with additional information.