Today it was learned that ABC, CBS. FOX, and NBC are suing to shutdown Locast according to The Wall Street Journal. This comes after Dish and AT&T have used Locast to help support their fight with local ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC local TV stations.
Update: Locast sent Cord Cutters News the following statement about the lawsuit. “Locast is an independent, non-profit organization that provides a public service retransmitting free over-the-air broadcasts. Its activities are expressly permitted under the Copyright Act. The fact that no broadcasters have previously filed suit for more than a year and a half suggests that they recognize this. We look forward to defending the claims—and the public’s right to receive transmissions broadcast over the airwaves—in the litigation.”
Locast launched back in early 2018, offering access to 15 stations including ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC. Locast parent company Sports Fans Coalition is a nonprofit and says there is an exception in the FCC rules that allows them to air locals without paying the stations for the service. They are hoping to be protected by Title 17, Chapter 1, section 111 a) 5 of the Copyright Act a section that allows nonprofits to avoid many of the fees companies would typically pay.
The Sports Fan Coalition New York was created for the purpose of launching Locast and is headed by David Goodfriend. The question has always been how broadcasters would react to this free service, but Goodfriend is no stranger to pushing back against broadcasters and the NFL.
As you would expect, ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC are arguing that Locast is violating their copyright by re-transmitting the signals of their local TV stations without permission.
Recently, DISH has been taking advantage by making Locast a default suggested app for new AirTV players. When we asked AirTV for comment about Locast, they sent us the following statement: “One of the benefits of AirTV Mini is the ability to get local channels and OTT content on one device; for customers who live in an area without good OTA reception, Locast is a great option for them, and similar to Netflix, we think some customers may want to use it.”
AT&T also recently added Locast to its DIRECTV and U-Verse boxes. AT&T even donated $500,000 to Locast to help them keep running. That support of Locast quickly made great sense. After AT&T dropped Nexstar-owned locals, including many ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC locals, along with CBS locals, the company could point users to Locast as a free alternative. Locast gave them leverage over local owners like Nexstar, CBS, and Meredith when they asked for a price hike.
We’ll now have to wait and see if Locast will legally be able to continue offering free access to these major networks and whether AT&T can continue using the free service to their advantage in negotiations.
This is breaking news. Cord Cutters News is reaching out to Locast for comment and will update this story as we learn more.
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