How to fix “No Channels were found” error in Windows Media Center

I recently reviewed a couple of QAM TV Tuners (SiliconDust HDHR3 Dual ATSC/QAM Network Tuner) and MyGica A680B I recently bought as part of my effort to get rid of expensive cable subscription, DVR fees, etc. I use a server running Windows 7 and Windows Media Center as a DVR and a bunch of XBOX 360 game consoles as extenders. While the tuners performed well, I had big problems setting up and finding clear QAM channels in Windows Media Center and I wasted a day trying to figure out why it doesn’t work. The result is described in this tutorial.

If you are trying to watch clear QAM channels using your newly purchased tuner, maybe you were surprised to find out that after a full scan Windows Media Center displayed a the message: “No channels were found” prompting you to check if your TV equipment is properly connected to the computer. Yes, it was! What next?

Well, it turns out that Windows Media Center did find the QAM channels, if not all of them, at least some of them. The problem is with your cable company which doesn’t want you to use the free QAM channels even if they do broadcast them, because they want to SELL you digital service. As a result, they made it hard to use them, but not impossible. In my case Time Warner does not embed the PSIP (in-band) data that describes the channel name among other things. Without a channel name, Media Center will disable the channel even if it detected some signal. The found channel with have a weird name, something like 83-456 based maybe on the modulation mode and carrier frequency.

To fix this, you’ll need to perform a series of steps. The first step is to navigate to Tasks->Settings->TV->Guide (in Media Center, of course) and select Edit Channels. You should see a list of all detected channels but not enabled. You can enable the ones you want to appear in the Guide then press Save. Going back to the Guide, you should see all the detected channels available now. If you do not want to see the Internet TV channels in the Guide, uncheck them in the same list (Hint: They are somewhere near the bottom).

In the same list, you’ll also see a lot of channels, some of them displaying a lock sign. Those channels are encrypted hence not available without a cable card (and a cable subscription).

Beside the channels having a station identifier, most probably you’ll find tens of other channels marked with weird numbers (C80.455). Those channels could actually be the local channels you are missing so jump to part two of this tutorial, how to add / edit missing QAM channels.


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