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Locast shuts down after court ruling


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https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2021/09/locasts-free-tv-service-is-in-peril-as-big-4-networks-win-copyright-ruling/

 

What it basically boils down to is that Locast's "donations" exceed the cost of providing the service, therefore using the proceeds to expand, technically making "a profit".

 

I really hope they can prevail, or else it's a sad day for free TV as we know it.   Damn the greedy broadcast companies for shaking down cable companies for the privilege of carrying their signals to begin with.

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These things called "antennas" have been around for oh, about 80 years now for television. Not to mention the plethora of OTT apps. Local TV has always been accessible for free to viewers and always will be.

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It was always a sketchy business model with the 15-minute pop-ups for "donations". It was Aereo 2.0. Broadcasters do not like people showing their stuff (especially for a fee) without getting a cut. I'm sure we'll see more services like this down the line in an attempt to please a rural-living cordcutter. When one dies, three more rises up from the ashes...

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2 hours ago, Yankees4life said:

It was always a sketchy business model with the 15-minute pop-ups for "donations". It was Aereo 2.0. Broadcasters do not like people showing their stuff (especially for a fee) without getting a cut. I'm sure we'll see more services like this down the line in an attempt to please a rural-living cordcutter. When one dies, three more rises up from the ashes...

The odd part is that neither Locast nor Aereo isn’t the first instance in which companies used loopholes in copyright law (or what they thought were loopholes) to deliver broadcast stations without express permission from local broadcasters. The superstations (except for TBS, which was uplinked with Ted Turner’s assistance) were uplinked by satellite distributors such as United Video and Eastern Microwave using a loophole included in the 1976 Copyright Act that, in essence, allowed independent stations to be distributed via compulsory license without seeking permission from the originating station. For the most part, indies wound up accepting the added distribution, even if they weren’t happy that their signals were being beamed nationwide with their prior knowledge.

 

The issue here appears to be related not only to copyright, but also compensation. The suits against Aereo and Locast would never have been filed, much less ruled in favor of the networks to the detriment of Locast and its users, if the companies compensated the networks for distribution, similar to how superstations wound up being directly compensated through royalty fees. (I don’t know how such a compensation structure would have worked if Locast chose to give broadcasters a royalty for distributing their signals, and it probably would have made it somewhat difficult for Locast to handle its business expenditures and pay all broadcasters it transmitted, given it only served 36 markets and earned just over $4 million in total donations over its existence, without more rapid expansion into all 210 markets than it had envisioned would occur.)

 

It would be difficult for any startup streaming services to reinvent what Locast and Aereo aimed to do without paying royalties, and ironically the only companies that could feasibly use a similar business model as them without being sued out of existence are… likely the networks that sued those services out of existence or individual station groups (a la NewsOn’s structure).

Edited by T.L. Hughes
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Just now, phillynewslover said:

Someone on the Discord server brought up the idea of a station group having something similar (like Nexstar creating an app where you can stream their stations). I think that would be interesting.

I could watch WSPA again like I could as a kid. I can with an antenna. But with better reception.

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I loved the month I had with Locast in order to get a few channels unavailable to me from Milwaukee due to greed (Journal's 'you don't get our subchannels' policy with Charter that remains borked with Scripps), lack of channel room (PBS World), or 'Spectrum will never carry them' (Ion and LPTV subchannels). And it came in handy when I was traveling and had an Airbnb which didn't have cable/antenna, so I used their Roku app to watch the LA channels.

 

And there are GOOD broadcaster options out there. Vuit was created to allow the Gray stations to offer their station's programming besides just news. But that service is borked itself by the networks not allowing Vuit to carry their content, along with syndicators who still think it's 1990 and the show must be watched on a regular TV at one time five days a week. Paramount+ does a good job offering CBS affiliates, but again...blocks of syndicated programming we can't see. ABC's app is good, but the NBC app is terrible, and Fox only offers O&O's...and the last three require cable logins. Then there's groups like Nexstar, Tegna and Meredith that make watching a simple newscast stream feel like putting together an Ikea shelf.

 

I was fine paying $5 for the service, but I knew it was too good to last. And the NAB needed to get together and offer some kind of non-antenna reception standard way back in 2005.

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There's the benefit of viewers in a particular DMA being able to watch their local stations anywhere inside of it, because TV reception can be difficult if not impossible in some locations.

 

I think if they lighten the donation amount to only cover their expenses and find alternate funding for their expansion, it could operate within the law. 

 

But still, the broadcasters are going to see locast as a threat since they are taking something that is already FREE to viewers and merely rebroadcasting it to other viewers as a nonprofit service.   

 

Meanwhile, the broadcasters are still fighting with cable companies over retransmission fees and everyone is paying out the nose for it.  Thank you Perry Sook for opening this can of whoop ass on the TV industry. 

 

This is America where you can have your cake and eat it too.  People are still going to find a way to get their broadcast stations however they can, whether it's antenna, cable, satellite, OTT, or tying two Dixie cups to a string...

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Even though I never used Locast, it's still a big loss for cord-cutters. I know it was very popular as it had over 3 million subscribers.

 

It wouldn't shock me if it comes back under a new name and model and hopefully can operate with no legal issues.

 

I'm surprised the broadcasters haven't found a way to end over-the air broadcasting and hope it never happens.

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Locast was useful to receive the digital subchannels (MeTV, Cozi, Laff, This TV, etc.) especially if you were in an area where you couldn't pick it up with an antenna or in some cases, not carried by local cable providers.

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13 hours ago, Mrtraveler01 said:

Retransmission fees are the biggest scam in broadcasting. And that greed is going to contribute to its ultimate demise.

 

Its upsetting. 

 

I wish the government would put a stop to it, but it won't happen I'm sure.

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On 9/3/2021 at 12:35 PM, Newsjunkie24 said:

Even though I never used Locast, it's still a big loss for cord-cutters. I know it was very popular as it had over 3 million subscribers.

 

It wouldn't shock me if it comes back under a new name and model and hopefully can operate with no legal issues.

 

I'm surprised the broadcasters haven't found a way to end over-the air broadcasting and hope it never happens.

 

If it was up to Viacom, Comcast, and Disney, they would have ended OTA broadcasting years ago... but ironically it's a pesky league called the NFL that is keeping OTA alive*.

 

*Yes, I know that the NFL has cable, and streaming games, but at least 2 OTA stations must carry a NFL game.

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