Changes Ahead for Antenna TV Viewers

Apr 20, 2018

Plan to rescan to continue receiving free TV. PBS affiliate WKAR will the first area station to move to new frequency under FCC plan.

EAST LANSING, MI; Apr. 20, 2018 -- An estimated 15% of households in mid-Michigan receive television free, over-the-air, via antenna.

Viewers in those households will have to rescan their TV tuners periodically over the next two years, as WKAR-TV and other local stations move to new broadcast frequencies assigned by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The frequency reassignments are part of a project by the FCC to make room in the broadcast spectrum for wireless broadband services and new digital TV technologies. By law, nearly 1,000 TV stations nationwide must change broadcast frequencies by the spring of 2020.

No new devices, equipment or services will be needed to continue receiving the local stations. Antenna TV viewers must simply go into their tuner channel settings and rescan to locate stations after each makes their assigned change.

WKAR-TV East Lansing at Michigan State University will be one of the first stations in the country to make the move, on or sometime after May 9. WSYM and WLAJ will be moving in about two years.

To make the move, WKAR is replacing the main broadcast antenna that sits atop the station's 1000-foot tower, plus a twenty-year-old transmitter, the transmission line to the antenna, and an auxiliary antenna.

It's a $2 million project for WKAR, paid for almost entirely by the proceeds of the recent FCC spectrum auction.

Beginning April 20 through completion of the project in May, WKAR TV and 90.5 FM and 105.1 FM will be broadcasting at substantially reduced power as crews work on the transmitter and antenna. This may result in poor or no reception for some viewers and listeners. FM broadcasts are affected by the work because the TV and FM broadcast antennas are on the same tower.

There will also be short periods when the stations are off the air entirely for crew safety when working on the antenna.

Comcast and AT&T Uverse services will not be affected by the work; however, other pay TV service providers receive the WKAR signal over the air, and they will be adversely impacted.

All WKAR original TV programming and much of the PBS content is available for on-demand viewing at and in the PBS channel on streaming devices. Online listening services will not be affected.

When WKAR completes the work and returns to the air at full power, WKAR-TV will continue to appear at channels 23.1, 23.2, 23.3, and 23.4 after a rescan for channels.

To learn more about the upcoming changes, visit the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) website at