Aereo? FilmOn? You may have some company in the fringe quasi-legal, digital-pay TV provider space.
Another group thinks it has found a better way to air local broadcast TV stations free to consumers -- all without paying fees to those TV outlets — form a nonprofit organization.
A nonprofit group, Sports Fans Coalition, is launching locast.org — a mashup of “local” and “broadcast” — a New York broadcast TV station over-the-top streaming service. All in time for some big sports programming to come in the coming weeks.
But the group has no intention of compensating any of the 13 New York-area TV stations.
Instead, the group is relying on something else. According to the Federal Copyright Act, a “secondary transmission” of TV stations is allowed if it “is not made by a cable system but is made by a governmental body, or other nonprofit organization, without any purpose of direct or indirect commercial advantage, and without charge to the recipients of the secondary transmission...”
David Goodfriend, chairman of Sports Fans Coalition, says the group will attempt to push this service to other markets -- but with the recognition of what’s to come: "We're going to give it a shot, and we're going to get sued.”
The National Association of Broadcasters believes that last part, too. The NAB stated: “We are deeply skeptical that this service will survive legal scrutiny where its predecessors have failed.”
Indeed, other virtual digital pay TV providers -- Aereo and FilmOn -- waded into this area in previous years, using other arguments based on other federal rules. Both were found on the wrong side of legal fees and issues concerning over-the-air TV stations.
Why do groups still linger in this troubled area? Some entrepreneurs view broadcast-only TV consumers as a real potential growth area.
But for a nonprofit, what’s the financial model here? Maybe potential consumers will make “donations” for the service and get a tax deduction for their efforts.
If you are a low-budget TV consumer and don’t want to get bog down in whether this is right or wrong, there is an easy way to go. Get a cheap over-the-air digital antenna. Or, watch lots of free YouTube for your entertainment/sports needs.
Now just find that free broadband service.