Skip to Content
Pointer Clicker is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Read more.

Where Does TV Static Come From?

Where Does TV Static Come From?

Sharing is caring!

Some theorists believe that a percentage of the static noise on your TV results from (CMB) Cosmic Microwave Background radiation— a 13.7 billion year echo from the Big Bang.

About 60 years ago, a Nobel prize-winning duo—Arno Peniaz and Robert Wilson—researched static to improve the efficiency of satellite communication.

They discovered that no matter the angle and direction of their antenna, it always picked an unknown microwave noise.

Their discovery propagated the theory that the static you hear and see on your TV is partly from CMB radiation, almost as old as the universe itself. However, the Big Bang only accounts for 1% of the static on your TV. Artificial sources contribute the remaining 99%.

In this article, we’ll explore the origin of static noise on your TV screen and how to stop its occurrence.

Where Does TV Static Come From?

TV static on an old TV

Static or static noise is the constant dot pixel display on your TV screen. It occurs when there is weak or no signal transmission from the broadcast station to your TV receiver.

The screen display becomes an unstructured mesh of white, gray, and black patterns accompanied by a hissing sound. The blacks represent the most substantial part of a TV signal, while the whites represent the weakest.

According to astrophysicists, some 13.8 billion years ago, The Big Bang released an enormous amount of energy into the cosmos that has continued echoing through the universe — this energy is called the cosmic microwave background (CMB). Theorists believe this (CMB) radiation is responsible for a percentage of your analog TV’s static noise.

Analog TVs are designed to receive radio waves and interpret them into audiovisual data. Analog TVs pick up and interpret cosmic noise when viable broadcast signals are unavailable.

However, the Big Bang’s CMB only accounts for about 1% of the static on your TV. Other sources contribute to static noise.

When there is no broadcast signal for a particular channel, the TV antenna picks up electromagnetic waves from various sources instead. These waves do not contain signal data that the TV can translate into information, so they translate into static.

The sources of these electromagnetic waves could be nearby electronic appliances like Wi-Fi boxes, microwave ovens, and others. Even the internal electronics of the TV (i.e., transistors) emit electromagnetic waves, which the antenna picks up too.

What Is TV Static Called?

TV static is often called ‘noise’ since it is the absence of a signal in the electromagnetic waves the TV receives. Since there is no translatable data in the electromagnetic waves, we are left with nothing but empty ‘noise.’

TV static is also referred to by other names like static noise, white noise, or just noise. The French and Dutch refer to static noise as snow.

Why Does My TV Have Static?

TV antennas pick up electromagnetic waves within their frequencies indiscriminately.

If these waves are empty of tangible broadcast signals, they fall flat upon signal interpretation. The result is static noise from the speakers and pixelated ‘snow’ on the screen.

Your TV picks up empty electromagnetic waves for one of the following reasons:

1. Weak Signal Reception

TV can't receive signal from the broadcast tower

The signals reaching your TV from the broadcast towers may be weak. Factors that block or weaken broadcast signals include poor weather conditions, metallic obstacles, concrete walls, and poor antenna placement.

A poorly maintained or low-quality antenna or satellite dish can also contribute to white noise if it cannot receive broadcast signals.

2. A Break in Signal Transmission

Some TV stations have sign-on and sign-off times. If you tune in to a station when its broadcast is turned off, you’ll get a static display due to a lack of translatable signals.

3. Faulty Cable Connections

Tv and Cable Box

Coaxial cables connect antennas, satellite receivers, and cable boxes to TV sets.

G-PLUG 30FT RG6 Coaxial Cable Connectors Set – High-Speed Internet, Broadband and Digital TV Aerial, Satellite Cable Extension – Weather-Sealed...
  • YOUR COMPLETE COAXIAL CONNECTION KIT. Our premium-quality coaxial cable connector set includes...

Last update on 2023-09-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API.

If the cables or connector ports are faulty, the data transmission from the receiver to the TV will be poor.

4. Electromagnetic Interference

You may lose your TV picture due to electromagnetic interference from other electronics in your immediate vicinity.

Electronics such as microwave ovens, fluorescent lights, vacuum cleaners, and Wi-Fi routers are known to interfere with TV broadcast frequencies.

How Do You Stop TV Static?

There are no special skills needed to fix your TV static. Below is our guide to troubleshooting your way out of TV static problems.

Move devices that are likely to cause interference with your TV out of range.

Look through other channels to see if the static is only on one or two.

The problem could be from its broadcast station if there is static on just one channel.

If there are static noises on all other channels, check for the connecting coaxial cable and ensure it is connected firmly to the receiver.

hand holding a white TV aerial cable plugged in the back of TV

Check your antenna placement and adjust accordingly for better signal reception. Please keep it away from metallic materials and concrete walls.

Install a stronger indoor antenna or opt for an outdoor antenna.


Is TV Static From the Big Bang?

big bang

TV static results from your antenna or satellite receivers picking up electromagnetic waves that do not contain TV broadcast signals.

The antenna is designed to pick up electromagnetic waves and then translate any available TV signals into audiovisual data. Without viable TV signals, it displays static ‘noise’ from the empty electromagnetic waves.

The electromagnetic waves your antenna picks up are from various sources — artificial and natural.

The artificial sources include nearby electronics like microwave ovens and vacuum cleaners, while Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation from the Big Bang contributes to the natural percentage of electromagnetic radiation.

Electromagnetic waves from artificial sources are the more significant contributors to white noise. CMB only constitutes about 1% of empty waves that translate to TV static.

Is TV Static Truly Random?

No, static is not exactly random. It is the absence of TV broadcast signals and color information. In this situation, your TV is designed to extract a monochrome signal out of empty electromagnetic waves it picks up.

If you can pinpoint the sources of the electromagnetic waves your receiver picks up, you can even replicate the exact static data on another TV.


TV static occurs as a result of several things. Poor signal transmission, interference, and faulty cable connections are the most significant contributors.

Cosmic radiation from the Big Bang accounts for a minute part of your television’s static display and hissing sound. The bulk of TV static is from empty electromagnetic waves emitted by other electronic devices.

When faced with TV static, the best thing is to troubleshoot and identify the cause of the problem. Once you do this, you can follow our easy guide to correct the problem. Cheers!

Sharing is caring!