Locast continues to spread its wings as the nonprofit local broadcast TV streaming service is now available in Puerto Rico. The streamer announced today that they are officially delivering a dozen local TV channels across the island, giving residents access to local news, weather and storm coverage, emergency information, sports and entertainment programming via internet-connected devices. The service also features multi-language support and allows for Spanish-language access to the Locast app’s user-interface, log-in screens and program guide.
“Now more than ever, Puerto Ricans will seek emergency updates and disaster information from their local TV news, which delivers critical updates on coronavirus and lockdowns, earthquakes, and hurricanes,” said Locast founder and chairman David Goodfriend. “Locast fills the communications gap by delivering local TV channels via the internet to phones, tablets, computers, and media players, even when other types of communications infrastructure are damaged. As long as local TV stations are broadcasting, Locast will be a lifeline to 78 municipalities in Puerto Rico.”
The news comes as Puerto Rico gears up to fight against the coronavirus as well as the approaching summer hurricane season.
News that Locast would be expanding to Puerto Rico first came out in February. Although they have seen major growth over the course of the last year — reaching more than 41 million viewers in 17 U.S. cities — Locast has had some legal issues.
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, which has since closed, had 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.