TIP: What to do if you get “Not authorized (721)”

You don’t want to read an encyclopedia, you just want to watch DIRECTV. Does that sound like you? If you are the sort who likes to really dig deep into error messages, check out our detailed list. But what if you get one of these messages and you just want to watch TV?

Depending on your receiver, the message could be simpler-looking. It could simply say “Please Call Customer Service (Ext. 721)” or “Channel Not Authorized (721)” There are a few other variations that are possible, but essentially they all have a 721 somewhere on the screen.

What does this mean?

This error means that your receiver is not authorized to watch the channel you’re trying to watch. It could be as simple as, you’re not authorized to watch the channel you’re trying to watch. It may not be in your programming package. However, this message can pop up on a channel you used to watch, and that’s frustrating. It happens most often if a receiver has been unplugged for more than a few days, because DIRECTV receivers are designed to check to make sure their users are current on their bills. If the receiver can’t check, it thinks you’ve canceled your service and stops showing your channels.

It means that the access card inside your receiver needs new authorizations. Luckily this is pretty easy.

Do you need a new receiver?

This error hardly ever means a problem with your receiver. In rare cases, the access card needs to be replaced but this is a very easy procedure you can do by yourself. Call Solid Signal at 888-233-7563 and we will arrange for a new access card for you. When you get it, call us again and we will get you completely activated.

Here’s how you do it

Here is a step-by-step guide to fixing this common problem.

  1. First, go to DIRECTV’s “My Equipment” page. (you must be logged into your directv.com account.)
  2. Click “Refresh Receiver” next to the image of the receiver you want to refresh. If you don’t know which one to choose, you can do all of them but DIRECTV’s system may make you wait a few minutes between each.
  3. Try this up to 3 times for each receiver and give it 5 minutes between each to make sure it works.
  4. If that does not work, confirm that the access card number listed at directv.com is the same as listed on the setup page (Menu, Settings&Help, Settings)
  5. If that does not work, unfortunately you will need to call Solid Signal at 888-233-7563 or contact DIRECTV.

This technique will solve most instances of the so-called 721 error. DIRECTV recommends rebooting each receiver but personally I have never seen this help with this error. If the problem is on every channel, even after refreshing it usually means something fairly serious is wrong with your account but this is very rare.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.