FCC Pushing 'Double Re-scan'

Involves having consumers clear out their boxes' memories before re-scanning

The FCC says some stations in Chicago and Philadelphia may have to apply for power boosts and are in discussions with stations there about their various technical issues, but that it is currently focused on consumer-based fixes for reception problems, including promoting what it is calling the “double-rescan.”

That is having consumers clear out their boxes' memories before re-scanning, a process the commission says is having success, particularly in Chicago. Our teams are beginning to put the word out on the technique, says FCC spokesman Rick Kaplan.

Kaplan says that some consumers who were having problems with both channel 2 and channel 7 in Chicago, for example, were having problems with their boxes because both those stations went from a high UHF to a low VHF channel. "There are some converter boxes that, if you just do a normal re-scan, they won't be able to replace the old digital channel with the new one. So, you actually just have to clear the box out."

He says that the double re-scan has worked "very well" in Chicago with channel 2. The FCC has a person from the D.C. office now in the market who says the call center has been able to resolve "about 90% of the calls that way,” says Kaplan. He said L.A. has had success with the double re-scan as well, where according to field staffers there. 80%-90% of calls about KTLA reception have been resolved.

To double re-scan, says Kaplan, viewers need to unplug the antenna, then scan so it picks up nothing, then unplug the converter or DTV set, plug it back in, then rescan.

But for viewers still having trouble, says Kaplan, the FCC is talking with stations about possible long-term solutions from their end. If stations have to officially ask for more power, the FCC will take that seriously, he said. But that will also include figuring out who the boosted power might interfere with, and what dominoes that might trigger elsewhere.

"We want to figure out how to get it right," he says. "We don't want to rush, but don't want to delay, either." But while the commission is working with stations on their end, a process that won't be immediate if it involves adjusting power levels, the FCC "wants to make sure all consumer avenues are exhausted."