Locast, a free streaming app offering access to local broadcast television, is now offering a dozen local TV channels via the internet across Puerto Rico.
The non-profit said the timing of the launch should help the U.S. territory keep its citizens informed during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and the incoming summer hurricane season.
“Now more than ever, Puerto Ricans will seek emergency updates and disaster information from their local TV news, which delivers critical updates on coronavirus and lockdowns, earthquakes, and hurricanes,” said Locast Founder and Chairman David Goodfriend in a statement. “Locast fills the communications gap by delivering local TV channels via the internet to phones, tablets, computers, and media players, even when other types of communications infrastructure are damaged. As long as local TV stations are broadcasting, Locast will be a lifeline to 78 municipalities in Puerto Rico.”
The launch in Puerto Rico comes after Locast earlier this year announced that it had surpassed one million registered users. The company also said that it’s now operating in 17 cities and available to more than 41 million TV homes, covering 36% of the U.S. market.
Locast streams full-power broadcast channels in local markets to anyone with an internet connection located within the relevant Nielsen Designated Market Area (DMA). The company's operational costs do not include licensing fees paid to broadcasters. The organization relies on a statute within the Copyright Act that allows a non-profit organization to retransmit local broadcast signals.
Locast is a non-profit, but it asks its users for donations to help cover costs. Last year Locast received a $500,000 donation from AT&T, which said the money was intended to assist Locast in its “mission to make free broadcast content available to consumers and offer them more choice” by serving as a signal booster and alternative means of accessing broadcast stations.