During the past few years it has been possible to get over the air (OTA) local TV stations via streaming. Locast brought local channels to any device you owned without the need for an antenna. If this sounds familiar, another company Aereo tried this back in 2012. Every major broadcaster sued Aereo into oblivion. That company lasted two years. Locast has now met a similar fate.
Yesterday Locast abruptly suspended operations and cut off all transmission in the middle of the day. On Wednesday the courts ruled in broadcasters’ favor. They argued because $5 monthly donations exceeded “the actual and reasonable costs of maintaining and operating the service,” it was not operating within the boundaries of the non-profit exemption. The money they collected was used for expansion, rather than maintaining operation alone.
…in response to the court’s recent rulings, with which we respectfully disagree, we are hereby suspending operations, effective immediately.Locast’s message when they stopped operations
The “difference” for Locast versus Aereo was operating as a non-profit. Aereo was a sucription while Locast asked $5 a month. This was a “donation” to help fund the cost. You could watch for free, but Locast would bounce you out to the program guide every 15 minutes. So it was technically free, but not really. However, the service worked great. With the donation active there were ways to integrate Locast into Plex and other services people used for their entertainment.
It’s important to remember this fact: airwaves in the US are publicly owned. Yet there is no mechanism to bring the streaming of those airwaves to people. If ABC, FOX, CBS, and NBC want to control the transmission of the airwaves, it should be mandatory to bring a steaming version to market as well. A free version that does not require a cable login. There are a lot of people (including myself) who live too far from broadcast towers to get OTA TV. Plenty more live in basement apartments or in places where you cannot mount an antenna outside.
Locast was a great service but taken down by the same greed that takes down all scrappy fighters. Chalk up another reason to hate all these big companies.