‘Big Four’ Network Broadcasters File Motion to Have Locast Trial Postponed Until 2022
The “Big Four” broadcasters — ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC — have filed a motion to have their trial against Locast, a non-profit streaming service, postponed until February 2022. The trial was expected to happen in the first three weeks of November. Due to the pandemic delaying other trials, it’s not included in the first two weeks of the court schedule.
“Plaintiffs have every interest in getting to trial and securing a judgment as quickly as possible, as Defendants continue to launch their service in more locations, but Plaintiffs are aware that the Court is unavailable in December, and a trial date in January would be challenging for counsel and witnesses, many of whom are planning to be with their families for the holidays during December, rather than preparing for trial,” reads the motion for delay. “Thus, for the aforementioned reasons, we request that, to the extent it is convenient for the Court, the trial date be set for early February 2022.”
The operators of Locast, Sports Fans Coalition NY and David Goodfriend, are opposed to postponing the trial. However. Locast’s representatives wrote, “Plaintiffs do not provide any indication that all trials that will be scheduled for November by the centralized calendaring system have been scheduled at this point—and it is our understanding from the clerk’s office that more trials may be scheduled for that time frame going forward. If summary judgment is not granted, and a trial is needed, it should be held at the earliest possible time.”
Locast is a live TV streaming service offering access to local TV affiliates in 36 markets. The service has been suspended because of a legal fight with broadcasters. Whether or not it returns, viewers have other options to watch local channels for free.
While the service could be used for free, users who didn’t pay for the membership tier would get a prompt to donate every 15 minutes. After the prompt, users were kicked back to the home screen and booted off the channel they were watching.
Locast could be viewed within Sling TV on select devices.
In September, it will be determined whether there will be a trial in December. If there is no chance of a trial in December, the defendants will support a joint request to move the trial to 2022. Locast’s defense wrote, “Plaintiffs’ final argument for delaying trial by an additional three months is that they believe that it would be more convenient for their witnesses if they could have some certainty in their schedules, and Plaintiffs’ attorneys would prefer not to spend time now doing the work to prepare for trial. Plaintiffs seem to forget, though, that they were the ones who brought this litigation.”
Locast was launched in January 2018. In July 2019, the “Big Four” filed a copyright infringement suit. The broadcasters claim that Locast is violating copyright laws. ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC argue that Nielsen codes and other important details are stripped when Locast retransmits their signals. Locast also requires registration and gathers consumer data. The broadcasters claim that this wouldn’t be necessary if Locast was truly a nonprofit.
The streaming service filed a countersuit, accusing ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC of collusion. Locast claims that the broadcasters interfered with a partnership with YouTube TV by “threatening business retaliation” against any potential partners.
Despite the pending lawsuit, Locast has continued to expand its reach. In late July, Locast launched service in Milwaukee, marking its 36th market nationally. More than half of the nation’s residents now have access to local television service via Locast.
In 2020, Locast launched service in Puerto Rico, as well as cities in Florida, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Indiana, among other areas. While the service is technically free, it is more or less unusable unless you donate $5.50 monthly for access to your channels. Without a donation, your stream stops every 15 minutes. Sling TV recently integrated Locast into their interface and grid guide, so you can access the channels directly.
They recently launched a program called Locast Cares that will give those who cannot donate financially, one-year free access.