During Wednesday’s earnings call, Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch hurled an accusation of “theft” at Locast, a free broadcast television streaming service that’s being sued by all four major U.S. broadcasters.
Murdoch called Locast a “rogue streaming service” and accused it of violating the copyright laws for commercial gain, “nothing more.”
“Locast’s claim to be a non-profit that is not operating for any direct or indirect commercial advantage is absurd,” said Murdoch, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript. “It operates for the clear commercial benefit of the corporations that support it.”
He added that Fox – along with ABC, CBS and NBC – is confident in the merit of the claim against Locast.
Last week, the broadcasters filed the lawsuit with the United States District Court in Southern New York against David Goodfriend and his non-profit Sports Fans Coalition NY, the group that operates Locast. The broadcasters are asking the court to prohibit Locast from operating its service, and to award damages connected to Locast’s operations. It accuses Locast of operating with its own commercial benefit in mind, as well as the commercial benefit of large pay TV operators including DirecTV and Dish Network.
“Locast is not the Robin Hood of television; instead, Locast’s founding, funding, and operations reveal its decidedly commercial purposes,” the lawsuit reads.
Locast’s app is integrated on both DirecTV’s and Dish Network’s pay TV set-top boxes. The service also has close ties to both companies: Goodfriend is a former Dish Network executive and AT&T (which owns DirecTV) recently made a $500,000 donation to Locast.
During its recent carriage dispute with CBS, which resulted in widespread channel blackouts, AT&T had been directing some of its subscribers to Locast as an alternative for watching CBS. However, today AT&T and CBS announced a new content carriage agreement.