OTA TV 101


Screenshot via canadiantire.ca.

Interested in watching digital over-the-air (OTA) TV for no monthly fee but not sure where to start? Here’s what you’ll need (in order of importance):

  1. A TV signal: Visit TV Fool and enter your postal code to see what OTA TV signals are in your area. If there are no OTA television signals in your area then you won’t be able to watch any OTA TV. If you have no OTA TV signals and you’re disappointed, write your MP!
  2. A TV: Unlike a computer monitor, a TV has a television tuner. Most newer TVs have a built-in digital TV tuner (called an ATSC tuner). If you have an older TV that doesn’t have a digital television tuner, you will need a digital-to-analogue converter box. This will allow you to receive digital OTA TV on your analogue TV set.
  3. A TV antenna: Rabbit ears can receive digital (often HD) OTA TV signals? Yup. Basic (seen above, you’ll likely get between 1 and 10 stations, depending on where you live) or Deluxe (you’ll likely get between 10 and 30 stations, depending on where you live). Use coaxial cable to connect your TV antenna (or TV converter box) to the metal coaxial connection on the back of your TV.

Provided you have one or more digital OTA TV signals in your area, a TV with a digital tuner, and a TV antenna you’ll then need to scan for channels:

Explore the menu of your TV set or TV converter box for your settings. Look for a setting called “channel settings” or “input settings” or something like that. You want to select “antenna” or “terrestrial” or “broadcast” or “air” or something like that. You then want to scan for signals. If there is an “auto-scan” feature, select that. Wait for the TV to finish scanning (usually a few minutes) and then see what you have! If you don’t have anything, or less channels than anticipated, move your antenna to a different location and try another scan.