How to Get TV Reception Without Cable

By Patrick Nelson

If all you need are the basic network television channels like CBS, NBC, ABC and a FOX affiliate and you're not too far--or blocked by mountains--from a broadcast mast, you can pick up good quality high definition (HD) signals, in many cases better than the signals delivered by cable. You will need an antenna, and it doesn't have to be a particularly elaborate one either. In many cases, any old analog television antenna you might have up on your roof will work. Worst case scenario, you can add an amplifier or upgrade the antenna.

Step 1

Identify any existing antennas on your house. If terrestrial (free-to-air) was used before you had cable, the antenna and cable might still be there on the roof. An analog antenna can work with the new digital free-to-air signals. Turn the television off, unplug it from the wall and plug the antenna's coax antenna cable into your television. Use the same jack on the television that the cable box was plugged into.

Step 2

Plug the television back into the household power and enter the setup menu for your television. Change the antenna selection to air from cable and scan for channels. If your television captures the stations you want, then no further action is required.

Step 3

Purchase a set-top free-to-air digital antenna and plug it into the television. Again, change the antenna selection to air from cable and scan for channels to see what you get.

Step 4

Purchase a free-to-air amplifier. Plug the antenna into the amplifier and plug the amplifier into the household outlet and into the television. Scan for channels again.

Step 5

Install an exterior free-to-air antenna. You may want to get a contractor to do this. Run the antenna wire into the house and plug it in to the outlet on your TV where the cable box would be located. Turn on the TV and scan for channels as before.

Tips & Warnings

  • Re-scan every time you add or move the antenna.