Nothing is new under the sun. We will see reboots, remakes sitcoms that feel just like old ones and new ones like Rosanne, that are in fact the same ones we used to watch. Why does the entertainment industry do this? Because for all of the complaints about Hollywood not having any new ideas people flock to it. But now and then someone tries to bring something back that went away for good reason. This is the case with Locast.
Locast, a service launched out of New York City is delivering over the air signals to according to the non-profit, thousands of viewers. The concept is not too different from Aereo, which was shut down after a loss in the US Supreme Court. Locast placed an antenna on a building in Long Island where it could receive signals from 15 broadcast channels and retransmit them. This was Aereo’s method also. The difference is that Aereo charged customers a monthly fee for “antenna rental” in order to deliver the OTA programming across a number of apps. Locast is an outgrowth of the non-profit called Sports Fans Coalition and therefore does not actually charge users for the service but does ask for donations as seen in this statement taken from a post on the Locast website.
As a nonprofit entity, we are only able to operate as a digital translator service if we provide the service for free or at cost, which is the way it should be! But running this site is expensive, so we need your help. Please donate $10 now, or make a monthly contribution of $1.99 to help keep us afloat. You can use your credit card and it’s really easy.
So no, you do not have to pay to access what it delivers but they would like you to, voluntarily. This reminds me of some of the recently shut down Roku channels like XTV, which regularly asked for donations to help maintain the servers that delivered copyrighted content for free.
Locast Will Be Shut Down
While there is quiet talk about Locast expanding to cities outside of New York I have a feeling that the broadcast interests in New York will deal with this group rather quickly, If not before the NFL holds its championship game. While the website has been in operation since October 2017, media interest will shine a light on this and bring great scrutiny. The case is too obvious. Cable and satellite companies have to pay to rebroadcast OTA channels. The OTA channels will not let a non-profit or a for-profit organization provide access to their stations without those fees. And after the courts came down on Aereo for doing the same thing they were denied the opportunity to do pay transmission fees or establish themselves as a legitimate provider. In a Bloomberg article Jack Goodman, a former general counsel for the NAB explained the issue saying explaining that while there is an exception for nonprofits to retransmit signals it has not been looked at in the digital age and that if the service does not actually start charging it will likely be unaffordable on the providers end.
How is this different from USTV Now?
Good question. While I’ve always somewhat wondered how USTV Now could offer local channels based out of the northeast I make a guess that they do so because it is advertised as a way to service American expats and not local viewers. In fact, in order to sign up for the service, you must identify what country you live in. Whether that is simply plausible deniability on its part or a truly serious mission, USTV now has been in operation for years and has apps for Roku, Kodi and Plex as well as access via its website.
Question, should it be funny that spellcheck corrects Locast as Locust? It is rather ironic that a service that feeds off of already established channels is seen that way by the spell checker.
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