Locast – a free streaming service for live, local broadcast television – has set up shop in Portland, Oregon, extending its reach to 31 markets.
Locast in Portland will provide access to 39 local TV channels including KGW NBC 8, KPTV FOX 12, KATU ABC 2, KOIN CBS 6, PBS and PBS Kids, for 27 counties in the Portland designated market area.
Locast is also available in Indianapolis, Detroit, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach and Tampa Bay in Florida. Other Locast markets include major cities like New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Cleveland and Philadelphia along with much smaller markets like Sioux Falls and Rapid City in South Dakota.
The service said it now has more than 2.5 million registered users nationwide and that it reaches approximately half of the U.S. population. In 2020, Locast said it added more than one million users.
Locast is a non-profit service that relies on a statute within the Copyright Act to retransmit local broadcast signals. The company asks its users to contribute $5 per month – once they do, they’ll stop seeing donation requests every 15 minutes while they’re using the service. Marc Lumpkin, a spokesperson for the organization, said a small percentage of users donate.
While the company works on expanding its footprint, it is also contending with a lawsuit brought on by the major U.S. broadcasters – ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC – who allege that Locast is seeking its own commercial benefit rather than just functioning as a broadcast signal booster.
“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.”