The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has suggested that a streaming service in New York that rebroadcasts local TV stations without their consent is unlikely to survive legal scrutiny because of copyright concerns.
Sports fans advocacy organisation the Sports Fan Coalition (SFC) has incorporated the Sports Fans Coalition New York, its first separate local chapter, with the stated intention of tackling all the issues it claims plague the country’s largest sports market. As such, it has decided to kick things off with a major project designed to revolutionise the media landscape in New York by offering Locast.org, an Internet streaming service that will bring live, local broadcast television straight to users on their computer or mobile device.
“Broadcasters use licences worth billions of dollars and got those licences for free from the American public,” said David Goodfriend, Chairman of SFCNY and Founder of Locast.org. “Some people can’t receive their local broadcaster’s over-the-air signal, either because they live too far from the transmitter or in a household where broadcast signals won’t reach, like a basement apartment. Locast.org provides a solution where viewers can watch local broadcast stations online without paying an arm and a leg for it.”
The SFC claims that today’s media landscape — especially with sports — has become over-corporatised. “Large companies are merging with other large companies, ISP and pay-TV providers are raising rates, and at the end of the day, it’s the sports fan who suffers the most. It was never supposed to be like this. Local broadcast television was supposed to be a public service to the community. Locast is about bringing back that public service,” it says.
Locast.org claims to have found a loophole in the law which allows non-profit “translator” services to rebroadcast local station signals without receiving a copyright licence from the broadcaster and without having to pay a retransmission fee to cable operators.
In a Statement, NAB Executive Vice President of Communications Dennis Wharton noted that over the years, numerous services from Aereo to FilmOn had tried to find creative ways to skirt the communications and copyright laws that protect local broadcasters and tens of millions of viewers. “Without more details, this effort by the Sports Fan Coalition sounds like the latest such effort. We are deeply sceptical that this service will survive legal scrutiny where its predecessors have failed,” he added.