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Cutting the cord? Tips on how to watch free TV using an antenna or streaming service

Published: Oct. 4, 2021 at 2:50 PM CDT
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QUAD CITIES (KWQC) - So you think you’re ready to cut costs by cutting the cord?

Many people are leaving traditional cable or satellite TV services and making the switch to live streaming TV programming over the internet. But breaking up can be hard to do.

First, you should compare the cost of internet and streaming services like Netflix, Disney Plus or YouTube TV. If you subscribe to more than one service to get all your favorite channels, you could end up paying more. The other thing to consider is how will you watch your local TV channels? The answer to that is easy, AND it’s free!

We enlisted help from an expert, Lee Zeglin, owner of Zeglins TV & Appliance in Moline. He says by law, every TV comes complete with an antenna. The only exception is if it is called something other than a television.

“They call themselves monitors or home theater TVs where they don’t have a tuner in them, but every TV should have a coaxial point where you can screw in the antenna to them. If it’s classified as a TV, it has to have that feature,” said Zeglin.

In other words, the only thing you need to get free local channels is an antenna. Plug it into the same place where you would plug in a cable or satellite service. It may take some adjustment to get all the channels, depending on where you live and where you place the antenna.

“Most roofs in a house take about 30-percent of signal strength away, by just having it inside. So you want it closest to outside as possible,” he added.

Ideally, that would be the roof or in the attic, but a window will also do. Just don’t put the antenna behind the TV. Zeglin says that’s the worst place to get a signal because of all the interference.

Once you screw in the antenna, it’s time to reprogram. The steps may vary between TV brands, but basically, use the remote to go to settings and chose antenna TV channels. There, you will rescan for broadcast channels. If you don’t see any, you may need to move your antenna and rescan again.

“If you don’t get something, reprogram it, move it a little bit, reprogram it. There’s a lot of that involved in it,” Zeglin added.

You may have better success using an amplified antenna. It plugs into a power source to improve signal strength. KWQC-TV Chief Engineer Doug Bierman says the amplified antenna works best if you live far away from the broadcast tower.

If you live at the bottom of a hill, you may want to consider a taller antenna. Zeglin says rooftop antennas are made to better reach broadcast signals and may greatly improve channel strength.

Also, you can improve reception by knowing where the broadcast towers are located in your area and pointing the antenna in that direction. In the Quad City TV market, towers are located in Bettendorf, Iowa (KWQC-TV), and Orion, Illinois.

When picking out a new TV, Zeglin says better brands, like LG and Samsung, will include select channels built-in by the manufacturer that you can access using the internet. This won’t include local broadcast channels. You can use an antenna to watch local broadcasts while also using the internet to stream programming. If you like recording your favorite shows, you can purchase a portable DVR.

So if you want to watch local channels for free, plug in an antenna and rescan for antenna channels. With digital sub-channels added to the KWQC-TV line-up you can watch our main channel, 6.1 https://www.kwqc.com/programming/schedule/, Ion 6.2 https://iontelevision.com/, Cozi, 6.3 https://www.cozitv.com/, Heroes and Icons 6.4 https://www.handitv.com/, Start TV https://www.starttv.com/on 6.5 and Circle on 6.6 https://www.circleallaccess.com/.

As for streaming services, you can watch TV6 newscasts using the following: kwqc.com, the KWQC News App, AppleTV, FireTV, Roku, VUit, NBC, Hulu, YoutubeTV fuboTV, and NewsON.

You can find past newscasts and some video clips here. https://www.vuit.com/publishers/312/kwqc-news/vod

Free TV. It’s something KWQC has been providing for more than 70 years.

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