Yesterday ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC filed a lawsuit targeting Locast in an effort to shut it down. Now the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has, as you would likely have expected, come out in support of the lawsuit. One interesting note is that the NAB included complaints about how AT&T and Dish have supported or had “remarkably close relationship” with Locast.
“NAB wholeheartedly backs today’s lawsuit against Locast. This firm is thinly disguised as a not-for-profit entity that mirrors failed predecessors Aereo and FilmOn in its bid to legitimize the theft of local TV broadcast signals.” Said NAB Executive Vice President of Communications Dennis Wharton. “Indeed, Locast is all about gaining a commercial advantage for its backers and others in violation of U.S. copyright law to the detriment of local broadcast TV viewers. The enterprise has benefited from a $500,000 donation from AT&T along with contributions from other pay-TV providers, as well as Locast’s remarkably close relationship with pay-TV giant DISH Network.”
Mr. Wharton went on to say “We’re confident the courts will see through the AT&T/DISH/Locast ruse and uphold the integrity of U.S. copyright laws that sustain the economic viability of local broadcasting.”
Dish has been recommending Locast as a suggested app on its AirTV players. AT&T made a $500,000 donation to Locast this summer and has added Locast to DIRECTV and U-verse set-top boxes. This seems to have grabbed the attention of broadcasters who fear that Dish and AT&T are using Locast to push back against the ever-growing fees for local TV stations. Especially as those fees have risen over 600% since 2006.
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 question now is who will win the lawsuit. That is sadly something we likely won’t know for months if not years to come as both sides get ready for a probably very long legal process.
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