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The Next Wave of the Channel Repack Is Underway – Plan to Rescan!


We hope you enjoy the following guest post from Michael Heiss, technology strategist, consultant, CEDIA FELLOW, contributing editor to Residential Tech Today, cord cutting enthusiast and Tablo’s sub-channel observer.

As the ’Keeper of the Digital Sub-Channels‘ for my fellow Tablo fans, it is my duty to make sure that you not only know about these hidden gems but that your Tablo continues to find them. I’ve written about the ’repack‘ process in the US about a year ago, but I need to remind you to plan to channel rescan again!

plan to rescan

Over the past few years, the FCC conducted an auction where TV stations were able to sell their licenses, or more correctly, the spectrum that their channel occupied, back to the government. The frequencies that were freed up were then resold to other users such as cellular carriers and for other uses such as public service agencies.

This means some of the stations you now watch may switch to a new ’physical channel’ over which the signal is transmitted, even though the ’logical channel‘ number may remain the same.

This transition is happening over a three-year period, divided into stages. Phase 2 ends on April 12th and Phase 3 begins the next day. For that reason, stations that have waited until the very last minute of Phase 2 will be shifting channels next week.

kcbs rescan

As these repack transitions happen, a channel you watch may seem to disappear. By FCC regulation, the stations must run announcements about a pending change, but you may not have been paying attention.

In order to keep watching your favorite channels, as soon as possible after the change date you should rescan your Tablo DVR and any other gadget or TV in the house connected to an Over-the-Air antenna.

tablo antenna live

For the Tablo it’s easy to do. (Click here for instructions.)

For your TV set itself, look for the Channel Settings option in the television’s menu and simply follow the prompts to ’Rescan Channels‘. You can also find information on all of this at or give the FCC’s repack hotline a ring at 1-888-225-5322.

Note: When the ’main‘ channel’s physical channel moves, so do its associated sub-channels.

rescan vietnamese

Even if your local channels aren’t changing frequencies right now, it is a good idea to rescan periodically, as some stations often add new sub-channels. This is particularly true where I live in Los Angeles where there are sub-channels in a host of languages including Armenian, Spanish, Korean, Mandarin and Cantonese Chinese, Japanese, Tagalog, Italian and a few others.

Believe it or not, some of the Japanese and Korean dramas and cooking shows are among my favorites. No, I don’t speak those languages; I have a hard enough time with English! However, thanks to sub-titles I watch and enjoy them. Since the sub-channels are not on the local cable system I’d be lost and unable to record them without a Tablo DVR!

antenna tower direction

This is also a good time to consider your antenna and its placement, particularly for indoor antennas. When the channels change, so may the transmitter location or at least where the antenna is on the tower and its associated broadcasting power.

If a favorite channel still doesn’t show up after a rescan, you may want to consider a more powerful antenna, adjust its positioning, add an amplifier, or all of the above.

Long story short, we want you to literally stay tuned! So plan to rescan and you’ll never wonder where your favorite channels went!

Michael Heiss


Michael Heiss is a technology strategist, consultant, CEDIA Fellow. a contributing editor to Residential Tech Today and proud wearer of his famous test pattern suit. Follow him on Twitter @captnvid

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