How to add / edit missing QAM channels in Windows Media Center

This is the part two in our series of tutorials in how to use Windows Media Center as a DVR for your high definition clear QAM channels. Unfortunately the operation is most cases is not as plug and play as we would like and I lost a day in the process of figuring a way to make everything work. The first part of the tutorial described how to deal with the “No channels were found error” that Media enter displays after a full scan for clear QAM channels. This part will describe how to add missing channels and set the proper Guide source so the right guide information and schedules are displayed.

In my case, although I knew KTTV-DT (the high definition Fox 11 affiliate in my area) had to be among the found channels, for some reason it wasn’t in the list. In this case ,you’ll have to add them manually by entering the modulation/frequency ID of the channel. An excellent resource for this is the SiliconDust website. Add your zip code, don’t forget to select the cable provider in the top left list box (Antenna channels list is selected by default) and you’ll see the actual channel number together with its virtual number. In my case, LA area, KTTVDT is 88.548.

To enter it, follow these steps:

1. Navigate to Tasks->Settings->TV->Guide and select Add Missing Channels

2. Select Add QAM channel and input the channel name from the SiliconDust website (again, the channel name, not the virtual name. It will look something like xxx.yyy)

3. Execute all the needed confirmations. At this point the channel will appear in the Guide and you can try to test it to see if you actually can get any signal. If all is good, you are ready for the next step, changing the Guide source for the new channel, so you can get access to EPG – Electronic Programming Guide.

4. Navigate again to Tasks->Settings->TV->Guide and select Edit Channels.

5. Select the channel you want to edit, after that click Edit Sources. You’ll need to select the right source from Windows Media Center EPG that will appear in the Guide for the new channel. You can also rename the channel from here as well.

6. You can choose the proper listings for your new channels. To navigate faster, you can type the first letters of the channel name and it will jump to the right place

7. That’s about it, don’t forget to save and get back to the guide. You will see the proper programming info displayed in the guide for your new channel.

8. Disable the background channel scanning service – One of the problems that might happen is that, due to Windows Media Center automatic background scanning for new channels (don’t know why it does that) you might lose your newly added / edited channels which can be very annoying. To disable the background channel scanning service, you’ll need to add a key in the registry:

HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Media Center\Service\BackgroundScanner.

Inside, there is a value (if there isn’t, you’ll need to add a new DWORD value) called PeriodicScanEnabled. Set it to 0 to disable the background scanning and 1 to enable it back. (disclaimer about changing the registry on your own risk here 😀 )

Don’t forget to restart the system so the background channel scanning services gets disabled.


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  • Anonymous

    Great review

  • Confused

    Could you please tell me why the “Add Missing Channels” option doesn’t appear when I navigate to the Guide?

  • allyourcasharebelongtous

    Here is a tip for anyone who’s channel scans do not pick up some Clear QAM signals in Windows Media Center, and who own a Hauppauge tuner. Since you cannot add more then 3 sub channel numbers to the add function in Media Center, try this instead, Install WinTV, and do your scan. If there are channels that are picked up by that, but not in WMC, go to settings in WinTV, and click on all channels. Look at the list for the channel you want, right click and select Details. In the window that opens locate the “physical Ch” number, and the “Service ID” number. That is your channel and subchannel number, similar to 109.1234. Now download and install a program called Guide Tool and run it. In the right hand window, choose your cable provider. Locate the channel you want to install, and highlight it for reference. In tool bar near the top, click on “tuners” and a window opens. Click your digital tuner, then click “add channel”. In this dialog window use the exact Call Sign name from the previously highlighted channel, ex. WTVTDT, then in the next field enter the Physical and Service numbers as above in the 109.1234 format, then in the last field enter just the Physical Channel number ex.. 109. Close the dialog, and find the newly created channel in the left side list of Guide Tool. Right Click it, and select Subscribe by Call Sign. Go to the Media Center (It will already be open) and look at the guide for the new channel, and test it out. I have added several channels to my own Media Center using this method. Be sure to test all the unidentified channels in WinTV as well. You might be surprised to find something unexpected. Good Luck.

  • allyourcasharebelongtous

    Certain brands of tuner cards have this effect.