Why Can’t I Change the Channels on TCL Smart TV?

Person playing games with remote in front of TVPerson playing games with remote in front of TV

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TCL has partnered with Roku to make affordable TVs that offer all the same Smart features that other top-market brands are providing. However, the jury is still out on whether or not the economic benefits correlate with the issues people have encountered when using a TCL Smart TV.

If you cannot change the channels on your TCL Smart TV, it could be due to problems with your remote, your selected input source, or it may even be a negative recourse of a system update.

The simplicity of fixing this problem truly depends on the “why”, so we are going to go through the steps you can follow at home to find out why you are experiencing this problem, and then what you can do to solve the issue.

Finding the Problem

When you can’t change the channels on your TCL Smart TV, it typically boils down to a few common issues:

  • Dead remote batteries
  • Incorrect input sources
  • A system glitch

How Do I Fix My TCL Remote?

No matter which TV model or brand you have in your home, the first step when trying to assess the cause of why your television won’t change channels is to check your remote.

To ensure it is in fact an issue with the television, attempt to change the channels with the buttons directly on your TCL TV or on your cable box if watching service provided TV, if that works, it is your remote that is giving you trouble. However, if it doesn’t work, you will need to fix a problem within the TV which we will discuss later in this article.

Although it seems like an obvious answer, a lot of people forget to change the batteries in their remote. So first make sure you have fresh batteries and that they are inserted correctly.

If it’s still not working properly, make sure your remote isn’t facing any interference problems so the signal can connect to the television.

Try the other buttons on the remote and if they are functioning properly, it’s probably not the remote’s fault you can’t change the channels!

How To Make Sure You Are Using the Right Input Source

The input source on your television communicates with the TV so it knows which source it should be displaying and working with. On most TCLs, there are several source options including HDMI ports, Antenna TV, Streaming Channels, AV for speakers, and more.

To navigate through these input options and make your selection, use  your TCL TV remote to access the Menu and find the Inputs icon. From there, you can scroll through the available options and select the one you need.

If you are not quite sure which input source you need to watch your programming, here’s a few hints.

  • When watching broadcast or over-the-air television, you need to select the Antenna source.
  • If using a cable provider, the signal is coming through your cable box which is most likely hooked up to an HDMI port. It’s important to note that most TV’s have several HDMI ports and they are numbered, so make sure the number you have selected is the same as the one the cable is plugged into.
  • When using an external streaming device such as an Amazon Firestick, you will need to check which port it uses and choose accordingly.

While remote and input issues are the most common reasons you may be having trouble changing the channels on your television, there is also a chance that it is actually TCL/Roku who are to blame.

Do TCL Upgrades Affect My TV?

Here is the slightly unfortunate news: from the data we’ve collected, we have noticed that quite a few users are having big problems with changing the channels on their TCL TVs.

Most have reported that technically they can change the channels, but that it moves incredibly slowly, forcing the TV to load the channel before moving onto the next one on the list, which really isn’t ideal.

In all the forums and reviews online the general consensus is that the problem occurred after an automatic system update from TCL/Roku and that there doesn’t seem to be any way to fix it.

If this is happening to your TCL television, you can try the prescribed instructions above, but you will most likely need to contact them directly to find out if there is anything you can do to reset the system to programming before the update.


If you can’t change the channels on your TCL Smart TV, you are certainly not alone. Hopefully, with these several options and step-by-step directions, you have fixed the issue yourself! But if the problem persists, you may need a technician to come take a look.

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