Troubleshoot problems with watching TV on your computer

Here are solutions to some common problems you might encounter while using Windows Media Center to watch TV on your computer.

Show all

Why do I get an error when I try to watch TV?

The following table provides information about how you can troubleshoot problems with TV.

Error Description
Action

Tuner not installed (external USB tuner)—The tuner might not be plugged in, have updated drivers, or be configured for use with Windows Media Center.

Make sure that the external TV tuner is plugged in to your computer.

For information about updating the driver, check the tuner documentation.

To configure the tuner for use with Windows Media Center, on the start screen, scroll to Tasks, click settings, click TV, and then click Set Up TV Signal.

Tuner not found (internal tuner card)—The tuner card might not be installed, enabled, have updated drivers, or be configured for use with Windows Media Center.

Make sure that the TV tuner card is installed on your computer.

Check for an updated driver for the TV tuner card. For information, see Update a driver for hardware that isn't working properly.

To get help from the driver manufacturer, see Get help for your TV tuner card.

To configure the TV tuner card for use with Windows Media Center, on the start screen, scroll to Tasks, click settings, click TV, and then click Set Up TV Signal.

Tuner in use—The tuner might be in use by another program.

Close all other media programs that are using the TV tuner device, and then try to watch live TV in Windows Media Center.

Tuner error (invalid TV format)—The tuner hardware does not support the TV format for the country or region selected.

  • Tune to a different channel.

  • Restart Windows Media Center.

  • Restart the computer.

Video error—The video decoder is in use by another program.

Close all other media programs that are using the decoder, and then try again.

Video error—The video decoder has malfunctioned or is not installed.

  • Restart Windows Media Center.

  • Restart the computer.

  • Contact your hardware manufacturer for help with reinstalling or updating the decoder software.

Audio device error—The audio card is not installed, enabled, or does not have updated drivers.

Make sure that the audio (sound) card is installed in your computer.

Enable the audio card in Windows Device Manager.

Contact your hardware manufacturer for information about updating the driver.

Why did the TV stop or the channel change unexpectedly?

Some TV tuner devices have an FM radio input as well as an input for a TV signal. Some of these devices cannot receive an FM radio signal and a TV signal simultaneously. For example, if the tuner is in use for FM radio when Windows Media Center is scheduled to start a TV recording, a warning might appear saying that the FM radio session will be stopped when the TV recording starts. If you don't make a selection, Windows Media Center will automatically stop FM radio and begin recording the TV program as scheduled. For more information about TV tuners, see TV on your computer: Understanding TV signals and TV tuners.

If you have one or more Windows Media Center Extenders connected to a home network and only one TV tuner device, someone else might be accessing the TV tuner in another room.

Why can't Windows Media Center change channels?

If you receive your TV signal through a set-top box and Windows Media Center cannot change channels or it changes channels incorrectly, check the following:

  • The infrared remote control cable, also known as an IR blaster, might not be connected. If it is connected, it might be positioned incorrectly on the front of the set-top box. If the IR blaster is not connected or positioned correctly, Windows Media Center cannot send a signal to the set-top box to change a channel.

    If you are having trouble placing the IR blaster on the set-top box correctly, try using a flashlight to locate the signal receiver on the set-top box.

  • If channels consistently change incorrectly, the IR control codes might not have been configured correctly during TV signal setup. To reconfigure your TV signal, on the start screen, scroll to Tasks, click settings, click TV, and then click Set Up TV Signal.

Why is there no TV signal on any standard TV channel?

There are two types of TV signals: standard and digital. If you get a message saying that Windows Media Center cannot detect a TV signal on a standard channel, it might be for one of the following reasons:

  • If you receive your TV signal through an over-the-air antenna, the channel might be temporarily unavailable, or you might not have reception.

  • If you subscribe to a cable or satellite service, your subscription might not include the channel you're trying to access. To remove channels that you don't receive, on the start screen, scroll to Tasks, click settings, click TV, click Guide, and then click Edit Channels.

  • If your TV signal passes through a cable or satellite set-top box, the set-top box might not be tuned to the appropriate channel. Make sure the set-top box is actually tuned to the channel that you are trying to locate.

  • If you have one or more TV tuner devices connected to your computer, you might be having trouble with one of the TV tuners. Make sure that each TV tuner is enabled and that the appropriate drivers are installed. To make sure that your TV tuner is compatible with Windows Vista, go to the Windows Vista Hardware Compatibility List website.

  • If you receive your TV signal from an over-the-air antenna or cable jack in the wall, make sure that the cable is connected properly to the TV-IN jack on your TV tuner hardware.

  • If your TV signal passes through a cable or satellite set-top box, make sure that the set-top box is turned on, and that these two cables are attached:

    • A cable connecting your TV signal to the set-top box.

    • A cable connecting your set-top box to the TV-IN jack on your TV tuner hardware.

  • Contact your TV service provider to ensure that your service is active and has no technical difficulties.

Why is there no TV signal for any of the digital antenna TV channels that are identified in Windows Media Center?

If you are using an over-the-air antenna and a digital TV tuner to receive a digital signal, and you get a message that Windows Media Center cannot detect a TV signal for any digital TV channel, try the following solutions:

  • Make sure that you are receiving a strong enough signal. To do this, move the antenna to an unobstructed location, and then check the signal strength in Windows Media Center.

    To check TV signal strength for digital TV channels, on the start screen, scroll to Tasks, click settings, click TV, and then click Digital TV Antenna Signal Strength.

  • Make sure that the coaxial cable is firmly connected to both the digital TV tuner device and the digital TV antenna. Some digital TV tuners have more than one connector, so make sure that the cable is connected to the TV-IN jack.

  • Check the information for your digital TV antenna to make sure that it supports digital TV.

  • If you have a signal amplifier for the digital TV antenna, make sure that there is a cable firmly connecting the two, and that the signal amplifier is powered on.

Why can't I get a signal for a specific digital antenna TV channel?

If you are using an over-the-air antenna and a digital TV tuner to receive a digital signal, and you get a message that Windows Media Center cannot detect a TV signal on one digital antenna TV channel, it might be for one of the following reasons:

  • The antenna placement or location is such that strong, consistent over-the-air digital TV signals cannot be received. Try repositioning the antenna for better TV signal reception, then check the signal strength in Windows Media Center.

    To check TV signal strength for digital TV channels, on the start screen, scroll to Tasks, click settings, click TV, and then click Digital TV Antenna Signal Strength.

    For more information about positioning your antenna to increase signal strength, check the information that came with the antenna.

  • Some wireless networks, cell phones, microwaves, and radio signals can interfere with an over-the-air digital TV signal. Try turning off each of these items while watching live digital TV to see if they are interfering with the TV signal reception.

  • If you notice long breaks in the TV signal, the channel might not broadcast TV programming at certain times of day. Check your TV listings for more information.

  • If you live in Europe and have an antenna that supports Digital Video Broadcast-Terrestrial (DVB-T) channels, the scan by Windows Media Center might have identified channels that you do not receive. You can remove these channels from the Windows Media Center Guide interface by doing the following:

    On the start menu, scroll to Tasks, click settings, click TV, click Guide, and then click Edit Channels.

Why can't I get a strong signal for a digital cable TV channel?

If you get a message that Windows Media Center cannot detect a TV signal on one digital cable TV channel, it might be for one of the following reasons:

  • You might not subscribe to the digital cable channel. Contact your cable company for more information about your service. If a channel appears in the Guide that is not part of your cable service, you can remove it by doing the following:

    On the start screen, scroll to Tasks, click settings, click TV, click Guide, and then click Edit Channels.

  • If you have a CableCARD, it might not be inserted correctly. Reinsert your CableCARD and try tuning again. If Windows Media Center requires you to set up your CableCARD again, follow the instructions in the wizard.

Notes

  • Windows Media Center is available only in Windows Vista Home Premium and Windows Vista Ultimate.

  • An analog or digital TV tuner is required to play and record live TV in Windows Media Center. If your computer did not come with a TV tuner card, you might be able to add one. For more information about obtaining a TV tuner card, see Get help for your TV tuner card or contact your computer manufacturer.