Why Did I Lose Channels on My Antenna?

By Greg Martinez / November 1, 2022
Why did I lose channels on my TV antenna

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One day you’re watching TV and notice that a channel or two has disappeared for no apparent reason.

TV reception problems on your antenna can be hard to diagnose, since unlike computer or car issues, you rarely see any message to explain sudden signal loss or degradation. One day the channel is there, and the next day it’s not.

The reason why you lose channels on your TV antenna can be one of any number of possibilities. But in many cases it’ll be the result of signal interference, originating either inside or outside your home.

Read on to understand why TV channels can suddenly disappear, and which approaches can work for bringing them back.

Rescanning Your TV Channels

After implementing any of the recommendations below to improve your TV reception, you should automatically update the channel list in the digital tuner of your TV, set-top box, or converter by running a channel scan.

In cases where recurring interference temporarily weakens the signal of a particular channel and causes it to drop out, running a channel scan may not always pick it up so you might want to manually add the channel into your tuner’s list.

Here you should find and add back its broadcast (and not virtual) channel, which you can usually find on the TV station’s website or on RabbitEars. The instructions for adding back a channel manually will depend on your TV.

Interference with Your TV Signal

Transmission of over-the-air (OTA) TV signals from nearby broadcast towers to your TV antenna is basically a form of line-of-sight communication.

This means that in order for perfect signal reception to occur, your antenna should be within adequate range of the tower and have line-of-sight to it with no obstructions in between.

Anything that obstructs or weakens your TV signal, whether over the air, or, along the coaxial cable to your TV within your home, is referred to as interference.

Atmospheric Interference

Although normal weather won’t cause reception issues, special patterns and conditions can scatter a TV signal (e.g., during heavy rain) or cause it to propagate much further than it normally would.

The latter situation is actually more common after nightfall or on unusually hot or cold days and is called tropospheric propagation. Here, high-pressure conditions may cause a faraway TV signal to skip along cold layers to reach your location, rather than dissipate or continue into space.

If this faraway signal is traveling at roughly the same frequency as a TV signal you’re receiving, it may cause co-channel interference. Effects may include pixelation or your TV channel disappearing entirely.

Unfortunately there’s not much you can do about atmospheric interference, other than wait until the weather reverts to normal conditions and temperatures.

Multipath Interference

When a TV signal reflects off of a nearby building, a body of water, or any other object that causes the signal to split and arrive at your antenna from slightly different directions, this is referred to as multipath interference.

As the original signal had split up into multiple signals, the risk is that these radio waves arrive at your receiver all slightly out of phase with each other, causing them to interfere with each other.

With digital TV this can weaken the signal to the point the channel drops out entirely.

Multipath interference can occur in many different ways. For example, a TV in a house by a road may experience reception problems every time a car passes by, since the TV signal from a particular direction hits the car’s surface and reflects off of it as multiple signals. This may cause the channel to temporarily disappear as the car passes.

To reduce multipath interference, try repositioning or elevating your TV antenna still higher in order to avoid interference from the reflected signals. This is not always guaranteed to work, but may be worth trying.

Cell Phone Tower Interference

A rarer form of co-channel interference can come from a nearby cell phone tower, if it’s broadcasting on a frequency that’s adjacent to the one used by your OTA TV signal. 

This is known as LTE or (increasingly) 5G interference, as frequencies in the 600 MHz range and above — which is the upper range for UHF TV channels — have been auctioned to wireless carriers and are being used to an increasing degree.

This kind of interference is a possibility if the TV channel you’re watching uses broadcast channel 35 or 36. If your antenna includes a preamplifier without an LTE filter, this may also cause reception challenges.

To address this kind of interference, you’ll likely want to buy an LTE filter and attach it to the coaxial cable.

Household Electromagnetic Interference

Any device in your home that runs on electricity will emit a subtle electromagnetic field. Normally your TV’s coaxial cable, your audio visual devices, and house wiring should all be well shielded from such interference.

A frayed coaxial cable, for instance, may not offer the proper shielding to prevent signals being emitted by other sources from interfering with your TV signal. Check the coax from your antenna and make sure it’s properly connected to devices.

Replace damaged or worn coax with RG-6 coaxial cable, which includes a thick outer sheath for proper electromagnetic shielding.

Faulty Equipment

It doesn’t happen often, but after many years your TV antenna, cable splitter, amplifier, or other equipment through which TV signals pass may have aged to the point where they lose function.

Or they may be damaged because of a heavy storm or lightning strike, for example.

It’s worthwhile to quickly inspect your antenna and other connected equipment to ensure they’re working properly and replace them if needed.

This includes the digital tuner inside your television. A tuner converts a TV signal into picture and sound for display on your television. If you suspect your tuner is malfunctioning, plug the antenna into another TV.

As tuners are normally built into television sets, a faulty tuner means you’ll have to buy either a new TV or a converter box — the latter acting as an external tuner for your TV.

Improper or Corroded Connections

Above, I mentioned checking that your coax cable is properly connected to your audio visual devices while inspecting the cable for frayed or worn segments.

If you have an outdoor TV antenna, you should also check the part of your coax that’s outside to ensure it’s not damaged, as this may introduce moisture into the inner parts of the cable and interfere with reception.

Also check for corrosion, and tighten any loose coax connection with your antenna, preamplifier, and any attached splitter, and weatherproof the connections if you suspect moisture may leak inside.

Antenna in the Wrong Position

Sometimes a gust of wind may knock down an outdoor antenna that’s not sufficiently secured, but oftentimes it takes less to affect TV channel reception.

The mast of an outdoor TV antenna should be vertically level and it must not sway in the wind, as swaying can cause signal dropouts.

As well, make sure the antenna is properly aimed at nearby broadcast towers.

Changes in Channel Broadcasting

On rare occasions, a TV station may make a commercial decision to change the actual frequency on which they broadcast a channel.

During the FCC channel repack in 2020, such changes were more common as stations had to adjust their channel assignments in line with the auction of the upper UHF spectrum to wireless carriers.

If you suspect this might be the case, go to the TV station’s website to see if such a change has indeed taken place, and if so, do a full channel rescan on your TV to pick up the new channel.


Although signal interference is often a culprit in why some channels disappear, it’s not the only possible explanation.

You should take a look at your coaxial cable and connected equipment, and as well as your TV antenna to verify that everything’s in working order.

Lastly, the explanation might be due to changes on the broadcaster’s side, which you can confirm by opening their website or contacting them.

ROB - December 28, 2019

I tried to rescan my livingroom tv last Sunday and lost a lot of my channels. every rescan I make comes with a different number of channels, I really don’t know what to do to find those 50 channels again. I don’t want to buy an antenna again.

Greg Martinez - December 29, 2019

Hi Rob, that sounds like a strange situation and sorry to hear about your troubles. I doubt it’s the antenna though. Have you thought about re-aiming it in a (slightly) different direction, or repositioning it?

josh kaiser - January 9, 2020

Is there an option to scan a TV without the remote? I have an old TV and were using it without a remote because the remote got broken.

Greg Martinez - January 10, 2020

Hi Josh, that will depend on your manufacturer and specific instructions that came with your TV. Unfortunately I can’t help with that. You can however, get a new remote – perhaps even a universal remote which can be used for different TVs and devices.

Jason S - February 15, 2020

I received an alert today telling me the channel map had changed and I needed to complete a scan to get the new channel list. After completing the scan I have lost all of the Freeview HD channels and almost all channels are stuttering/pixelated. I have done a factory reset, unplugged the aerial into the wall and plugged it back in, completed another channel scan but the same issue.

Greg Martinez - February 16, 2020

If you’d only lost a few channels (like 1 or 2), I might’ve suggested the tower or station you were previously getting had somehow gone off the air. But having lost all channels seem strange indeed. I’d consider getting a new antenna in that case.

OG - March 9, 2020

Yesterday, I turned on the TV and found that I have no reception for any of the OTA channels I’ve been able to watch for years. Every single channel has no signal or pops in and out momentarily. I rescanned for channels 3 times and had no success.

Greg Martinez - March 10, 2020

It could be any number of things, but I would verify the connections between the TV antenna and cabling. Are the coaxial cable ports on the antenna, any amplifiers/splitters, etc. corroded or in any way damaged? Verify the cable is also in good condition. Lastly, I would consider the age of the electronics like your TV and check those. Good luck!

Dianne Pflipsen - May 19, 2020

We have 4 TV’s and this applies to all of them. A Channel will start showing “Low Signal” or we can be watching that channel all day and while watching a show suddenly it is like someone flipped a switch to OFF and no more channel. This happened with our Channel 2’s, now they are totally gone. The same thing happened with Channel 5’s. Now Channel 9 and 4’s (Channel 4 has 4.1-4.2 and 4.3 so do the other Channels but I have not listed all of them). We are still getting the Channel 11’s but I do not know for how long.
I grew up with Channel’s 2, 4, 5, 9 and 11 in the days of Analogue. We had Analogue not that long ago. When I was a Kid due to Weather the Picture could get Snowy BUT AT LEAST THERE WAS A PICTURE. When everything turned to Digital the Picture was incredibly clear but for about the last 2 years due to “Low Signal” and loosing Channel after Channel there will be a black screen soon. It is like someone is getting “Paid” to turn the Switch Off that is what we are witnessing when watching a show on a clear nice day or night and in the middle of it “Low Signal” appears and the Show is gone. After this happens repeatedly for a few Month’s the Channel is completely gone. My Mother lives about 30 minutes of us and so does my Sister but in a different direction. They have the same problem. I have been doing Research when I can and several people have the same problem. Some also state just like some people on this Site said, they Scan and do not get the Channels back. People on other Sites state that when Re-Scanning they even loose more Channels and cannot get them back. I Scanned a few Months ago and I am afraid to Scan again, I may loose what little Channels I have left. I had our Antenna professionally installed therefore everything should be correctly installed. I also know that there has been Lobbying for years now because the Cable Company’s want to get rid of Antenna usage. Therefore I would not be surprised if there is someone Flipping the Switch to Off. Not everyone has money to spend for Cable. Now is not the time for turning the SWITCH TO OFF with people being home and not Social Distancing. Our Antenna TV is getting so bad.

Greg Martinez - May 19, 2020

Hi Dianne, that sounds terrible. You correctly point out that the terrestrial broadcast medium, since digitized, tends to be an all-or-nothing medium where you either get 100% or nothing. There’s a site called RabbitEars[dot]info where you can check the status of stations/transmitters and channels in your area. The site is a bit technical and takes some getting used to, but might offer some valuable information about what’s going on with channels where you live.

miriam davey - August 14, 2020

I second what Diane says. It’s like someone flips a switch somewhere, and what was a strong OTA channel suddenly pixelates, freezes, and then goes blank. This can happen suddenly, and last a few minutes or longer . Almost like, something is passing between the transmission tower and our antenna, jamming the signal. We are talking formerly strong stations (in analogue days), only 40 miles away. We also have the same issue with losing channels. If we get a storm, that causes just about all our channels to not come in at all, and then it’s like the TV forgets about some of them. If reception is bad at that moment, a re-scan will leave out some channels. The re-scan can take 15 minutes. Somebody is the winner in this war over television, but it’s not us.

Greg Martinez - August 14, 2020

Hi Miriam, I would get in touch with the station somehow and let them know. Maybe there’s an explanation?

Teresa - September 7, 2020

I was watching the TV smart TV down stairs I went to hang out the washing on my return the TV was showing a sign no signal check Antenna, after trying to rescan the TV there are no channels available, it’s not saying the same on every TV in the house, why would this just happen, it did say around August time I needed to update but I forgot, is there anyway I can do this now without calling an engineer as i’ve lost my job after being furloughed and I am still social distancing

Greg Martinez - September 7, 2020

What exactly needs to be updated, apps or software on the Smart TV? The antenna signal going out like that could be any number of things and unfortunately you might need to call someone.

KRTRider - September 10, 2021

I have 2 tv’s hooked to the same antenna: one tv gets all the antenna stations available in the area, the other has lost all the 9’s and 5’s, which are VERY important during severe weather events. Obviously it’s not the antenna, as the 2nd tv still receives these signals; what could be the cause?

Greg Martinez - September 10, 2021

If it’s not the antenna then it’s probably somewhere downline. Not clear what the setup is but the problem may lie in the cable going to the TV not getting those channels; for instance, if that cable is longer than 50 feet then there may be some signal attenuation. Or if you’re using a splitter somewhere then check that device. Also check the connections between the cable and its attached devices.

Alan Fisher - December 2, 2021

3 TVs using the same antenna for years. No problems. Very rural location. Lots of trees & hills. Extreme fringe antenna on a 30+ foot tower with rotor. A few weeks ago the rotor died. Still good reception. Then 2 days ago lost all but 2 channels. Today lost them. No reception at all. Going under house tomorrow to look at cable from antenna. Could this be a very old antenna giving up the ghost just after the rotor did the same? Always bad reception as weather front moves through but never like this.

Greg Martinez - December 2, 2021

Sounds like something failed along the chain. Did you remove the rotor? I’d check the cable and the connections between all the parts, like the connection between the antenna and cable as the problem may be something like corrosion.

Melody Beard - May 7, 2022

When just switched my tv to an antenna. I scanned the channels, worked great until as I was switching channels, they all disappeared. The ones that worked just a moment ago are no longer there. Went back to scan channels, and it showed no channels. Scanned again, and after a channel came in clear, once I started switching channels, the same thing happened. Tried again, same thing. Any ideas? Thank you.

Greg Martinez - May 8, 2022

That’s a strange issue – the only thing I can think of is to check if the firmware on your TV needs to be updated, and if so to go ahead and do this. The fault seems to be somewhere on the side of the TV.

cynthia cartee - May 24, 2022

I’ve been watching channel 38 in Huntsville Alabama during the day it’s off but late in the afternoon it works what has happened, I watch it every day is it off for good I use an antenna only.

Greg Martinez - May 25, 2022

It’s hard to know from here but I would tend to guess that (shifting) weather conditions may be the culprit.

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