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Problems with the TV changing channels on its own

Updated February 21, 2017

A television occasionally changes channels without you prompting it to do so, which can be frustrating when you are in the middle of watching your favourite show. Unfortunately, it can also be difficult to find the cause of this problem. It can take over a week to properly diagnose why your television is changing channels on its own and figure out how to fix it.

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Neighbour's Remote

One of the most common causes for a television in your home to change channels on its own is a neighbour who owns a similar model of television. When your neighbour uses his remote on his own television, your TV also picks up the signal. This problem may come and go because the remote must be pointing at your television to signal it from so far away. One of the best methods of testing this is to move your television around your home to see if the problem stops. If your TV moves out of range, or if the remote receiver is simply pointed in a different direction, this can stop the problem.

Remote Malfunction

Your remote changes the channel by sending a signal to your television. The signal is sent in bursts, and translates to something like, "I'm going to send you something. This is the command. This is where it should go. Now I'm done." This whole set of signals is created by a circuit in your remote and sent out via an infrared LED or a radio. However, if the circuit malfunctions or the connection to the signaller develops a short, it could be sending out signals that you don't want. You can verify and remedy this problem by replacing your television remote.


The infrared receiver on your television has a filter on it that keeps it from picking up the wrong wavelength of infrared signal, and it is supposed to only let through signals from your remote. This is good because many things emit infrared, including your light bulbs and your own body. However, sunlight contains so many different wavelengths of light that it can get through the filter. If sunlight is hitting the front of your television, the infrared receiver gets random signals. These can add up to the same signals that the television gets from a remote, and the channels change. If this seems to be the problem, you need to reposition your TV.

Television Malfunction

Just as a short in the remote or a problem with the remote circuit can make it send the wrong signal to the TV, the television can have similar problems that make it act as if it received a signal to change the channel. If the other three methods of diagnosing this problem do not work, the problem is probably with the television and it will need to be repaired. Television repair can be dangerous and complicated, and doing your own repairs voids any warranty. Unless you know what you are doing, have your TV repaired by a professional.

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About the Author

Stella Noble began writing professionally in 2004. She received her Juris Doctor from Georgetown University and also holds a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology.

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