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Seriously, I think if these OTA stations want to play hard ball like this, they need to meet the mission they agreed to when getting a license from the FCC for public airwaves; that is, to work to get their FREE OTA signal reachable to many more people without needing drastic measures (not always possible in apartments or condos, or in terrain).

What I don't understand is how Locast adapted by saying the donation was now voluntary, which would seem to comply with the judge's orders assuming they did not use the donations to expand into new markets, and then suddenly stopped completely. Are they done for good now? Who got in their ear in the less than 24 hours between going all voluntary and stopping entirely? What kind of lawyering was going on? I was logging in to increase my donation this morning to help in the legal fight, only to find out they quit. These stations that hold viewers who can't get OTA hostage need to be reined in. The bottom line is that we now live in the Corporate States of America -- government of, by and for the corporation.
 

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I'm not surprised by this either.
Nor am I, though I am disappointed. The bottom line is that no matter how Congress intended to allow nonprofits to retransmit these signals, these corporate media empires will fight it in court, every time, and never lose because they have the lawyers and a judiciary handpicked by the politicians they have bought, all the way up to the US Supreme Court. The game is rigged and Corporate America never loses.
 

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If this decision gets overturned it will probably be on some technicality (such as the "cannot expand" claim). Not for profits constantly use donations for expansion - adding new sites and services. The only way I see "expansion" as being a limit is due to being outside the intent of the law they are leveraging. The law was not intended to allow for a nationwide system of rebroadcasting local stations. That is what Locast was building, one market at a time.
Do we *know* Congress didn't intend to allow that to happen? Seems to me the idea was to allow signals that are *free* over-the-air to reach people for free when transmitted by an appropriate non-profit. And I don't see where Congress said the non-profit has to be local, market by market. I don't read that in the law.

I was wondering if one way around this could be to break this up into multiple, local non-profits each operating only within their own local market. If you do that, you pretty much eliminate the judge's (IMO questionable) logic here. If you don't allow that, you are pretty clearly violating the intent of Congress to allow for the retransmission by non-profits under at least some set of circumstances.

That said, I guess we don't know the exact intent of Congress, but I do know that these station owners and networks would never NOT try to sue ANY non-profit entity doing this out of existence.

So if the rabbit ears solution doesn't work, I'll probably head back to DirecTV
Which, of course, is exactly what they want -- not only do people often pay $100 a month or more for this, but they can also hold viewers hostage and withhold their programming in order to extort more and more money out of the rebroadcasters.
 

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Here's my point...I can buy an ATSC TV for $100+ and in my local market, receive the channels for free. But I can't do the same thing on my mobile phone because it doesn't have the ATSC chip in it? It comes in via LTE/5G vs ATSC RF so that makes a difference?
If there was a market for it, phone makers could put an ATSC tuner into their phones and allow reception of OTA TV through it. Of course, there wouldn't be much of an antenna so you'd probably have to be almost on top of the transmitters...
 

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So what is Locast's motive in providing this service? Are they really doing this out of kindness in their hearts for the poor souls who cannot obtain local broadcasts by any other means? I didn't get that impression during the incessant interruptions for donations during the broadcast.
Maybe it was just people motivated to do something in their disgust for the business practices of these broadcasters, one which I share. (They seem to want to push people into cable and satellite where they can charge fees for "free" TV and then hold viewers hostage by threatening to pull the signal if they don't keep getting more money. They sure don't seem interested in making their OTA signals easier to get or helping more people get their signal.) I mean, follow the money and all, but I don't know who was making money on this, though I would think as a nonprofit there would be public filings as to salaries and such (that may only apply to 501c3 type organizations; I don't know).
 

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Why didn't these NY folks, once the service was up and running around the country, simply transfer the local recieve facility, equipment, and costs, to a local group instead of trying to build an empire. In Washington State, we had several groups that had, over the years, built multiple uhf translators but had fallen on hard times when the fcc mandated digital transition on the analog systems; the costs were simply too much, and most of those systems are mothballed. But the locast system could have been sold for $1 to a local group, they could easily have operated it with unpaid local retired engineers, and gotten the bare nessesary funds for the internet feed (I wager that our local major backbone providers just may have given it for free or almost free).
I have been thinking about it more. It seems to me that a nonprofit local co-op structure should pass legal muster. You could charge annual "dues" for operations (for example, $60 a year like Locast was charging) and members would receive a refund of excess revenues at the end of the year, or perhaps a credit toward the next year's dues. It would also be restricted to serving the local market (no expansion into other markets), so you would have one such organization per market. I would still expect the broadcasters to try to sue them out of business, but it seems to me that such a structure would pretty clearly pass muster in terms of meeting the intent of Congress in creating the law authorizing nonprofit retransmission.
 

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The issue is the locals, with the support of the networks, do not want their signals rebroadcast for free by anyone whether for profit or non-profit and will use any means they can to put a stop to it. And they are pretty well undefeated in their efforts.
Exactly. I don't think they EVER intend to allow it to happen, at least not the major networks. They will do everything to sue anyone who tries it out of "business", no matter how obviously compliant they are with the law.
 

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If a court saw the refund of excess donations as distributing "profits" to private individuals that would violate the non-profit rules.
That would make some sense if the members were buying "shares" of the business. This looks more like a refund of an overpayment to me. But then again, the courts are fantastic in terms of finding ways to give these huge corporations everything they want against the little guy.
 

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Are they not allowed to maintain a fund for unexpected loss expenses? And a legal fund? Many non-profits do. Neither one of us has seen their financials to know how much money was allocated to what. Keep in mind, this ruling was based on just one man's interpretation of the law. I'll be very surprised if appeals are not forthcoming...
If they are going to appeal and keep the legal fight going, IMO they need to say so. I think some people may keep donating if they are going to fight this ruling, but if people think they are going to pack it up and give up, they will not.
 

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"Must carry", etc, are FCC rules for cable and satellite that have no bearing on this case.
My point is that these stations want people to use cable or satellite, where they can charge for retransmission. They want to shut down other options where they don't get paid. Stations on must-carry probably don't care how their broadcast gets out as long as it is intact.
 

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As local advertising revenues have dried up, the stations have been looking to make up that income through retransmission fees, partially because the stations have to pay the networks for carriage.
This is a fair point. Local stations have to make their money somewhere. I have to think between shrinking ratings and the proliferation of DVRs skipping commercials, it is pretty hard to make enough money with just advertising revenue these days. I am really not opposed to letting stations charge a fee for cable and satellite retransmission, provided the fee is reasonable and allows for a fair profit. But I am opposed like hell to the ability of stations and cable/satellite providers making viewers suffer when they have a dispute. IMO there should be some sort of third party mediation and eventually binding arbitration, one that does not let the station go dark for viewers. It is that reason why I am interested in OTA (when I can get it) or other ways to get the station which will not be blacked out in a carriage dispute.
 

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A couple of U.S. Reps, Eshoo (D, CA) and Scalise (R, LA) have a bill that they've introduced in Congress just about every year for a long while now, it seems. They're trying to repeal a lot of what went into the 1992 Cable Act. Among other things, it would ensure that stations continued to be carried by MVPDs during contract re-negotiations for up to 60 days, which should significantly reduce black-outs. It would also empower the FCC to force both sides to a biding neutral arbitration process.

The bigger change is that, after 42 months, the bill if enacted would repeal retransmission consent and allow free-market contract negotiations to happen under traditional copyright law. It would also strip government at all levels from being able to regulate cable rates. How that would transform the TV industry, and whether or not it would improve the situation for consumers, I don't know.
I am good with the first part. The second part scares me. I am not a fan of government overregulation but in this case I think it would be a good thing (since these stations are subject to regulation by the FCC because they receive a portion of the airwaves) to establish reasonable rates a station could charge for retransmission.
 

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Why are the locals stations so against streaming their signals via the internet, is it because of their contracts with cable and satellite?
It is largely because the enabling legislation allows stations to opt out of "must carry" provisions, and that allows stations to demand payment for retransmission of their signal through cable and satellite. This gives stations the incentive to want *all* viewers to view their programming through cable or satellite. They provide free OTA at this point mostly because they have to as terms for getting their use of the public airwaves. But they will oppose anything that encourages people to view their programming (other than OTA) in a way that does not involve paid retransmission.

Also -- a lot of the smaller, independent or small network stations are not against this (these are largely the ones that are on must-carry). It is mostly the four major networks, who see their programming (somewhat justifiably) as "worth more" in the marketplace, who are fighting any ability to receive their programming other than through cable or satellite (or grudgingly, OTA). They are not against streaming -- plenty of streaming services include their programming. They are against not being paid, and when the law is ambiguous enough to allow them to put a stop to that, they will.
 

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Again, you would think the locals would want as many eyeballs watching their stations as possible, especially for those that can't receive OTA signals.
Except that when they opt out of must carry and therefore charge for retransmission, they want everyone to watch their station through a provider that is paying them. In reality, they would love it if everyone watched through cable or satellite than by OTA. They have to provide OTA by law, but in reality, they'd rather people use cable.

Notice that you never see PBS joining these lawsuits? Or many other smaller, independent stations?
 
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