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What to do if I don't have broadcast TV reception in my area?
What to do if I don't have broadcast TV reception in my area?
How to troubleshoot over-the-air reception issues in your area.
Written by Free TV Project Staff
Updated over a week ago

Most areas can pick up all of their local channels for free with an antenna. However, it may be challenging to get reliable reception in rural or mountainous areas. Before you jump to the conclusion that an antenna won’t work in your area, refer to this article on how to run a reception report to see what the signals are like in your area. If TV stations are listed as at least “poor” on you still stand a good chance to pick them up. It’s only when channels are listed as “bad” that they’re less likely to be picked up at all.

Assuming you have very bad TV reception at your location, you still have a few options for free TV channels. The first option is to install a tower and place the antenna higher up. This would give you a better shot at local channels if you've already unsuccessfully tried an antenna 15-25 feet above the ground. Be aware tower installation must be performed by a licensed and insured contractor.

If you've tried the above and determined an antenna will not work in your area, another option is to use a Roku or Fire TV stick to livestream channels on a variety of streaming apps. Pluto, Stirr and Plex offer dozens of free live channels — some of them with local news. You can also download your favorite local TV station's app to watch local news live.

If you don’t have reliable internet service for streaming apps, another option is to use free-to-air satellite TV. You can find more information, including a list of channels, here.

Getting started

Watching free, over-the-air TV with an antenna is simpler than you may think. In many cases, you can take an antenna out of the box, connect the cable to your TV, run a channel scan and voila! You have dozens of local channels to surf.

The number of channels you can access and how clearly they come in is based on a number of factors, including your distance from the point of broadcast towers, the type of antenna you have and where it’s located in your home.

Not sure what kind of antenna you need? Take our simple quiz to help narrow down the options. You can also find a general list of recommended antennas here.

Pair your antenna with an OTA DVR device to record your favorite shows

Did you know you can use an antenna similarly to how you watch cable? Ditch the costly subscription fees, but keep the cable capabilities (record, pause, rewind and fast forward) with an OTA DVR device. Here are the products we recommend:

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