Locast, a non-profit organization that provides free-of-cost access to broadcast TV services is now being sued by TV networks such as ABC, Fox, CBS and NBC. In a lawsuit that was filed against Locast, these companies are seeking damages as well as the immediate shutdown of Locast service. The networks claim that, despite the non-profit tag, Locast is being supported by satellite TV industry, bringing to limelight the donation that was made by AT&T. The networks also contend that Locast has tie-ups with DishTV.
As said earlier, Locast has become the best way to access broadcast channels, free of cost. This is being done because an antenna makes broadcast channels easy to access. Because it’s inconvenient for most users to get an antenna, Locast becomes the middleman. The service is equipped with the proper infrastructure to receive broadcast channel signals and then make the channels available for common users. While Locast is doing this, the TV networks are losing business in terms of re-transmission rates.
“Where a primary broadcaster cannot reach a receiver with a strong enough signal, the translator amplifies that signal with another transmitter, allowing consumers who otherwise could not get the over-the-air signal to receive important programming, including local news, weather and of course, sports. Locast.org provides the same public service, except instead of an over-the-air signal transmitter, we provide the local broadcast signal via online streaming,” reads the about description of Locast.
According to the TV networks, however, Locast cannot simply do the re-transmission. While the process of re-transmission is completely legal, there are some additional concerns regarding copyright infringement. “Locast captures over-the-air broadcast signals, strips critical data from those signals, and then retransmits those signals, and the copyrighted content that they carry, to registered users over the Internet,” reads an important part of the lawsuit filed by CBS, ABC, NBC, etc.
Considering that Locast is trying to expand its services, even better than the 13 markets now being offered, this would have posed an issue to the re-transmission fee business of networks.