OTA TV 101


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. At least one 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 sold in Canada should have a built-in OTA television tuner called an ATSC tuner.
  3. A TV antenna: Even an old set of “rabbit ears” can receive digital (often HD) OTA TV signals. Basic, seen above, will likely receive between 1 and 10 stations depending on where you live and Deluxe will likely receive between 10 and 30 stations depending  where you live. Use coaxial cable to connect your TV antenna to the metal coaxial connection on the back of your TV. If your TV doesn’t have a coaxial connection you may need to use a coaxial to USB adapter.
  4. Scanning: Provided you have one or more digital OTA TV signals in your area,  you’ll need to scan for stations. Explore the menu of your TV set for settings. Look for a setting called something like “channel settings”, “off-air” or “input settings”.  Select “antenna” or “terrestrial” or “broadcast” or “air”. 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 fewer channels than anticipated, move your antenna to a different location and try another scan. Adding a signal amplifier/booster may help increase the number of channels received by your TV.