• 73°

New Orleans area television stations to change frequencies to allow expansion of 5G

Eight New Orleans area broadcast television channels will be changing frequency by January 17, 2020, which means viewers who watch some channels via antenna may have to have their televisions rescan for channels.

Channel numbers will not change, and viewers who use cable or satellite will not have to rescan for channels, said Jean Kiddoo, chair of the incentive auction task force at the FCC.

For viewers who watch television programs with an antenna, rescanning will be a simple process, Kiddoo said.

The rescan process is the same as when television owners initially set up their TV, Kiddoo said. Viewers can use their remote control or TV converter box to rescan by choosing “channel scan,” “channel tuning,” or “auto search” in the setup or channel menu. That process will automatically rescan for channels and add them to the available list on their television. The FCC has information on the process, including a video on the website www.fcc.gov/TVrescan. Alternately, viewers can call 1-888-CALLFCC toll free to get in touch with a help desk center to assist them with the process in English and Spanish.

Three local Mississippi based broadcast television channels already changed over to newer frequencies last year. Viewers who receive those stations needed to rescan to keep receiving them. If viewers have noticed channels they normally get are now missing, they should be able to rescan and receive those channels, Kiddoo said. 

TV stations are required to notify viewers at least 30 days in advance that the channel will change frequencies, Kiddoo said.

The channels are changing frequencies to make room for 5G and other broadband services. The FCC manages the nation’s airwaves, which are a scarce natural resource, said Kiddoo. The FCC determined that the frequencies used by broadcast television stations could be used more efficiently to free up space for more wireless services. In 2017, the FCC auctioned off space on those frequencies and over the last two years, 1,000 stations across the country are being repacked into smaller airwaves. The process will be finished nationwide in July 2020.

Television viewing has actually increased nationwide, as viewers watch more entertainment online and realize they can use a relatively inexpensive antenna to receive local programming, like emergency announcements and local news, Kiddoo said.

The eight channels affected by this change will be WWL-TV (CBS 4), WPXL-TV (ION 49), WDSU-TV (NBC 6), WLAE-TV (PBS 32), KGLA-TV (Telemundo 42), WUPL-TV (CH 54), KNOV-TV (CH 41) and WBXN-TV (CH 18).