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Locast Countersues ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox for Antitrust Violations

Stephanie Sengwe

Back in July, ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox filed a lawsuit against Locast, a nonprofit streaming service founded by former Dish Network Corp. lobbyist, David Goodfriend and funded in part by AT&T Inc. The networks claimed that the service was violating copyright law by retransmitting signals of their local TV stations without permission. The networks also claimed that should Locast gain popularity, it could cut into the revenue stream broadcasters receive from pay TV distributors.

Today, Locast is firing back with a countersuit accusing the networks of collusion. According to the New York Times, the streaming service is alleging that the broadcasters have “colluded” and are working to undermine and shut down Locast by “threatening business retaliation” against any potential partners.

Locast claims 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 the initial suit, ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox argued that when Locast retransmits their signals it strips out vital information including Nielsen codes that are used to measure ratings. They also claimed that if Locast, is truly a nonprofit, and not a pawn for AT&T and Dish, then there is no reason to require registration or gather its own consumer data—both of which Locast currently does.

While Locast relies on donations from users, they have accepted a $500,000 contribution from AT&T and another $800,000 from IOT Broadband LLC, a firm owned by former Dish executive Michael Kelly. To date, Locast says it has signed up more than 700,000 users and while it’s not yet available nationwide, it is present in many of the country’s largest TV markets and reaches more than 30 million households.

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