Nonprofit Locast continues to expand ‘free local TV as Congress intended’ into more cities in 2021
Washington, D.C. – Jan. 19, 2021 – Locast, America’s only nonprofit, free, local broadcast TV digital translator service, announced today it has surpassed more than 2.3 million registered users since its launch in January 2018, adding more than 1 million users in 2020 and making it one of the fastest-growing live TV app services.
“Our mission is clear: to increase accessibility and availability of free over-the-air broadcasts via the internet,” said consumer advocate David Goodfriend, chairman and founder of the nonprofit Locast. “The fast pace of our growth shows that for millions of Americans, reliable, affordable, and accessible local broadcast programming has been out of reach until now.”
Goodfriend added, “Local TV was supposed to be free and widely available. Unfortunately, either because they can’t get an over-the-air signal or can’t afford to pay for cable, satellite, or pay-TV streaming services, millions of Americans have been shut out from that promise – until now. Locast is helping to fulfill the promise of ubiquitous, free local TV by providing free local TV channels to phones, tablets, laptops or streaming media devices.”
Locast attributes its user growth largely to cord-cutters seeking relief from the rising rates of pay-TV providers or from those unable to receive an off-air signal.
Because a small portion of its registered users contribute monthly donations, Locast has expanded into 25 large and small markets at the end of 2020, improved its customer service response, become debt-free, and made local TV channels via the internet available to approximately 150 million viewers, or more than 45% of the U.S. population. Locast announced service in Madison, Wisconsin – its 26th market – last week and expects to announce more markets soon.
Locast continues its legal defense against claims made by the big four network broadcasters and their parent companies – CBS (Viacom), NBC (Comcast), FOX, and ABC (Disney). With the help of the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has a history of fighting copyright abuses, as well as the law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, Locast is confident it will prevail so it can continue its expansion into all 210 U.S. markets. A trial may occur in the second half of the year.
“The Copyright Act of 1976 is clearly on our side, and we believe we will win,” said Goodfriend. “These broadcast giants reap billions of dollars from charging users for programming that’s supposed to be free and are attempting to use their copyrights to maintain market power and force consumers to pay more. The law allows for nonprofits to retransmit local TV channels and to ask for donations to help cover costs. Locast clearly meets these guidelines.”
Locast provides a public service by giving access to important local news, storm coverage, emergency information, election coverage, sports, and entertainment programming to internet-connected devices.
Locast is available for streaming at www.locast.org, app stores, TiVo, streaming service providers Google Play, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon, and ROKU, and on DISH Hopper/Wally receivers or select DIRECTV receivers.