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To eliminate if it's the cable problem or not, see if you're able to get a picture and audio on another input by connecting a dvd player as an example. If you're able to receive a picture and audio tehn you know that input works. If you can then try connecting a antenna to the tunner, assumming that you had cable connected prior, and scan the channels again but instead of selecting cable select air then channel scan. If you still are not able to receive channels, then you have a bad tuner. You will need to have the main assembly board AKA scaler board replaced. You could however by-pass the tuner by using a VCR and connect your cable to the tuner on the VCR then use Composite wires from the VCR to the TV composite input and change the chanels from the VCR.
If you are in the USA, all free broadcast channels are digital, so you won't get anything without a digital converter box. In Canada, some channels are still available without the box till August 2011. The tuner may be defective. Use a VCR or cable converter with audio/video outputs and connect them to the appropriate inputs on the TV, use the VCR or converter to change the channels.
If the noise is coming in through the onboard tuner then repair may the only option. If you have a DVD or VCR and can connect the line level inputs (look like stereo connections) then do so and use that input, if the sound persists there then it is likely the audio circuitry - also a repair item.
Bypassing the TV sound system involves connecting your cable box, DVD or VCR (using the tuner from that unit select channels) audio output to a stereo system and then the TV becomes a big monitor (picture only)
You can replace the connector or if you have a cable box with audio and video outputs on it---connect them into one of the sets of jacks on the back of the set--switch to that input and change channels with the box----you can also do the same thing with a VCR--hook the cable into it and use its video and audio output jacks to connect to the video and audio input on the back of the TV.
In this case (the VCR does not have to work except as a tuner) you will go to whatever input you connect to and use the VCR to change channels.
These are a little less easy to use but costs you nothing---I am here to help, if you have any questions or need help let me know.
I would be inclined to say that there are only two likely problems that you may be encountering. Either you are getting a bad signal feed, or the connectors on the cable are getting old and need replaced. The connection to the cable can break down over time, especially if they have been connected and reconnected several times. I cannot rule out problems caused by the transition to DTV, but that doesnt seem likely if there are only a few channels affected. As far as "selective failure" of the VCR's built-in tuner, I would say that that is also a very unlikely source for the problem If the tuning components inside the tuner had gone out, I would expect to see a problem on all channels watched through the system. If you are having this problem on all channels of the sony, then the tuner could surely be the problem, but if you haven't used it much that would indicate a problem at manufacturing, however since at least one of the machines is working fine on some channels and not on all of them, I would suspect the connections or the signal from your cable company. Contact them first ands see if they are having signal issues, if not try replacing your connectors.
Make sure your receiver is hooked up to proper AM and FM antennae. Try switching to AM, scan stations. If you hear AM static and/or weak signals the problem could be antennas are not hooked up. FM has AFT which blocks out weak or noisey stations and you wont hear anything without ant.
The typical hookup is cable/satellite box output to VCR antenna/RF input, then VCR antenna/RF output to television input. Since you are able to watch pre-recorded tapes, the latter is already correct. There are other ways to connect, using the audio/video outputs of VCR to audio/video inputs of the TV. Older or low end TV sets may not have these connections.
If by chance you are using an outdoor antenna (not cable or satellite) then the antenna connects to VCR antenna/RF input and VCR output as above. You will also need to program the VCR into the stations- most late VCRs will scan for active channels, and program themselves to those channels.
I'm not sure of the capabilities of newer cable & sat boxes, but generally, you had to tune that box to the channel you wanted to record. The VCR is set to channel 3 or 4 depending on the output of the cable box.
Lastly, most VCRs of the last 10+ years require the remote to setup advanced functions, such as timed record, date & channel setup functions. The buttons on the VCR itself only do very basic functions, Stop/Play/Rewind/F-forward/Eject etc.
If you don't have the orig. remote, some universal remotes may be able to do advanced programming functions.
If you can get some of the stations without the box (often the case
for those who subscribe to digital cable or movie channels), then one setup is to split the raw cable and feed the box and the TV, then have the box feed the VCR and hook up the VCR composite video and line level audio outputs to the TV.
The VCR tuner would always be set to the VHF frequency your cable box RF output is on, usually ch. 2, 3 or 4.
This setup allows PIP to work, with the TV tuner limited to
unscrambled analog stations, and it also allows you to tape anything
coming through the box, while watching unscrambled analog stations on the TV.
However, it requires the VCR to be on and the TV set to the
external video input to simply watch what is coming through the cable box.
There are other ways to set this up with more flexibility using
splitters and A/B switches, or you can look for a special switch box
that handles the job.
The above assumes your TV has composite video and line level audio
The only way to have full flexibility to watch any scrambled or
unscrambled station at the same time as taping a scrambled station is to have 2 cable boxes. The only way to have your VCR control the
cable box and record different programs by switching the box by itself is to have a VCR with a cable box controller, also known as a cable "mouse".
Hope this helps