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Locast Announces Plans to Bring Service to Puerto Rico

Stephanie Sengwe

Locast has announced plans to expand to Puerto Rico. The the nonprofit local broadcast TV streaming service aims to stream dozens of local TV channels via the internet across Puerto Rico, offering residents local news, weather and storm coverage, emergency information, sports and entertainment programming via connected devices. The company is expected to announce the launch date in the coming months.

“Given that Puerto Rico has recently faced life-shattering earthquakes and hurricanes, we wholeheartedly support serious discussions about how to ensure communication networks are always available, especially for public safety,” said Locast founder and chairman David Goodfriend.

“Locast can help solve this problem by delivering local TV channels via the internet to phones, tablets, computers, and media players, even when other types of communications infrastructure are damaged,” Goodfriend added. “As long as local TV stations are broadcasting, Locast can become a lifeline to the 78 municipalities in Puerto Rico during emergency response and disaster relief efforts.”

Once the service launches in Puerto Rico, residents will have free access to their locally produced broadcast TV via the Locast app or at Launching Locast in Puerto Rico will help ensure that locals also have access to important emergency information from local TV stations.

Locast is available in 17 U.S. cities and reaches more than 41 million viewers.

Since last July, Locast has been battling ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, which claim the service is in violation of copyright laws. In their lawsuit, the networks argue that when Locast retransmits their signals, it strips out vital information including Nielsen codes that are used to measure ratings. In addition, the networks also claim that if Locast is truly a nonprofit, and not helping AT&T and Dish, then there is no reason to require registration or gather its own consumer data — both of which Locast currently does.

In a countersuit filed in September, Locast accused ABC, NBC, Fox and CBS of collusion. Locast claimed the networks interfered in a potential partnership with YouTube TV by disallowing it to provide access or Google would be “punished by the big four broadcasters.” The broadcasters — which own cable channels such as ESPN, Bravo, Fox News and Showtime — could band together and pressure Google as well as other pay-TV operators by refusing to sell their cable channels, Locast suggested.

In December, Locast launched its Legal Defense Fund on GoFundMe asking supporters to donate money that would pay for litigation fees. The campaign has four donation tiers — Locast Nation, those who donate $5 - $25; Friend, those who donate $100; Champion, those who donate $1,000; and Winner’s Circle for contributors who donate $50,000 or more.

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