Court Ruling Spells the End of Locast

Lowcast has informed subscribers it will be ending its service following an unfavorable court ruling.

Locast takes free, over-the-air local channel broadcasts and streams them over the internet. The solution was popular in many areas, with the company covering 55% of the US population, or more than 179 million people. Streaming service Sling even partnered with Locast to offer subscribers access to local channels, a traditionally weak point for Sling.

While other companies have been shut down for charging a fee for similar services, Locast was free and operated as a non-profit. The company did solicit donations mid-stream, and that appears to be what caused the problem. ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC sued, alleging the donation solicitation still broke the law. Unfortunately, the court sided with the broadcasters.

Although Locast originally planned on continuing to offer the service without the donation solicitations, it appears to have altered plans and has suspended service, effective immediately. The company notified customers in an email:

As a non-profit, 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 court ruling and Locast’s decision is a major blow to cordcutters and is an unfortunate win for an industry that has a long reputation of ruthlessly squashing anything that challenges the status quo — including things that benefit its customers.

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