Digital Multichannel:  The Evolution of ARCS


The State of Alaska is in the process of converting all of the ARCS stations to digital. As of November, 2016, more than 50 ARCS sites have been converted. This is an exciting and historic advancement in rural Alaskan television service.  With digital will come improved video and audio quality, plus additional public service channels such as PBS, 360 North and UATV. 

To view the new digital ARCS you will need a digital TV, or a digital “converter box” attached to your analog TV.  Some people purchased converter boxes in 2009 when the nation’s large stations went digital. 

If you are in need of a converter box they are readily available, usually from $30 to $45, at electronics stores such as Best Buy or Radio Shack, large stores such as Fred Meyer, Target, or WalMart, and online from sites such as Ebay, Amazon, Google and others.

The ARCS transmitter in your community will be converted using the “flash cut” method.  This will allow the new electronics to replace the old stuff, but continue to use the existing tower and transmit antennas.  As a result, the analog system in your community will be shut down at the same time the digital system is turned on.  After that moment viewers in your community will only be able to use digital TV receivers to view ARCS. 

There are many different kinds of digital TV sets and converters.  Most use a similar function for tuning into local channels.  Once you have attached an antenna to your set or box, use the search or find function.  This process may take a few minutes as it looks at all the possible frequencies to find the one carrying ARCS in your town.  Once it completes its search you will see the ARCS channel as well as the additional sub channels. Occasionally DTV receivers “forget” their local channel lineups and the search function must be repeated.  Your experiences may vary depending upon which make/model of receiver or tuner you use. 

If you run into problems, ARCS Technical Support will try to help you with ARCS reception.  We have a toll-free troubleshooting line, 888-840-0013.  You can call this number to set up an appointment with a technician to help set up your digital receiver.  When you call, be sure to give us a call back number, and remember to tell us the make and model of your TV or box so we can research how it works before calling you back.  

You can also contact us by using the form below.  Please include information about your ARCS service, such as community, channel, and what type of receiver you are using, and provide some contact information for you so we can get in touch.  



Note:  The information on this page is specifically about over-the-air television. It does not concern satellite, cable or other pay-television services. If you watch ARCS over a cable television service, please consult your local cable provider for details about how they distribute ARCS in your community.