It makes me particularly sad to say that Locast is probably a thing of the past. Ars Technica reported yesterday that a judge ordered them to shut down permanently. The judge quoted a 2019 agreement in which Locast agreed not to pursue profit, and supported the prior claim that Locast was doing just that. At least that’s what it looks like to my non-legal mind.
Locast can appeal, but will they?
There is a possibility that Locast will appeal the decision, and they have a right to. They can seek a stay, which would allow them to operate while the decision is being appealed. Again, my specifically untrained mind tells me that they wouldn’t get such a stay, and that an appeal would take years to work through.
And so, this looks like the final chapter for this enterprise. I’ve said before that it’s a shame because I think that Locast was doing a good thing. And I don’t agree that they were looking for long term profit. They obviously did use proceeds from donations to fund growth, and that obviously was a mistake. But I’m not sure Locast would have continued to push donations as hard once they had built out their network across the country.
The path forward
I’ll tell you my friends, someone else will try doing this again. This isn’t the first time that a company has tried to translate local channels to streaming. It hasn’t worked yet, but I suspect sooner or later someone will come up with a way to do this. People want it.
Over-the-air television broadcasting was created with the idea of serving the public. Today’s rules require that anyone who buys a television and who is within a reasonable distance from the towers can get TV reception with nothing more to buy. A future FCC may change that rule so that people must have access to that content over streaming. If so, it would make sense for one app to aggregate all that content.
I still think it makes sense for a group like the National Association of Broadcasters to take something like this on themselves and operate it as a collective with the agreement of the stations involved. It should increase advertising reach and help them, not hurt them. But hey, I have a feeling there are some smart people there who are thinking the same thing.