Legally Challenged Locast Streaming Service Shutters

Locast, the controversial online platform that attempted to stream third-party over-the-air TV network channels free to more than 3 million U.S. users across 13 cities, including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., has ceased operations.

The decision came after a New York judge sided with major media companies Disney, Fox and NBCUniversal, ruling that unauthorized use of their broadcast channels was illegal. Locast argued that as a nonprofit it was immune to copyright laws and merely acting as a “signal booster.”

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The judge disagreed, contending that donation requests from Locast to expand into additional markets voided the company’s nonprofit status.

“Locast was designed from the very beginning to operate in accordance with the strict letter of the law, but in response to the court’s recent rulings, with which we respectfully disagree, we are hereby suspending operations, effective immediately,” the nonprofit said in a statement.

Unique to Locast was that it had received funding from major media companies such as AT&T ($500,000), which owns WarnerMedia, and Google’s YouTube. When AT&T’s DirecTV satellite distributor and U-verse pay-TV channel had a retransmissions fee dispute with ViacomCBS in 2019, it directed its 6.5 million subscribers blacked out from CBS content to use Locast.

Separately, Dish Network offered the Locast app to its satellite and Sling TV subs as an alternative on its AirTV devices.