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If the Red Cross takes in more money than they need for actual expenses this year should they be shut down?
According to the very narrow ruling, yes, as are the pbs stations that collect much more than that needed for the continued daily operation of their station. My local, Kcts, assembled a war chest over a decade to fund a second station, ktbc, some 40 miles distant, which now carries many pbs programs both on its main as well as sub-channels, which are not on kcts. YouTube tv only carries kcts, so those of us within the 500 mile wide dma of Seattle have to jump through hoops on the pbs streaming app to view those programs carried on kbtc.

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).

Once these NY folks did that a couple of times around the country, it would really take off. Expansion? How did these 'sports' folks do that in the beginning? Have a seperate fundraising group go about it, maybe call it the 'jesus fund' since it seems that this country and its courts have a blind eye toward anything that smacks of messing with anything that simply calls itself that.

So, do it and do it now. Strike while the iron is hot.
 

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If the Red Cross takes in more money than they need for actual expenses this year should they be shut down?
The Red Cross is not restricted by 17 U.S. Code Section 111 (a) (5) .... unless (of course) they decide to rebroadcast television stations.

The "narrow ruling" is focused on the law that Locast based their business on. 17 U.S. Code Section 111 (a) (5) does not prevent not for profits in general from collecting more money than they spend or stop not for profits from expanding. 17 U.S. Code Section 111 (a) (5) prevents not for profits from retransmitting television stations if they charge more than the expense of retransmission.

Locast received some donations from non-viewers. Those donations could be used for new markets. If Locast would have separated their fee for turning off the nag interruptions from donations to expand service they probably would still be retransmitting. But they chose to charge a fee that was more than their costs.
 

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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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According to the very narrow ruling, yes, as are the pbs stations that collect much more than that needed for the continued daily operation of their station. My local, Kcts, assembled a war chest over a decade to fund a second station, ktbc, some 40 miles distant, which now carries many pbs programs both on its main as well as sub-channels, which are not on kcts.
That's a far cry from many years ago when every year my PBS channel (WGBH, Boston) spent practically the entire month of August in pledge mode, telling everyone every day they need $X by the end of the month, with a not quite silent "or else". Not to mention they'd spend an entire week in June with their on-air auctions looking to raise money.
 

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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.
There were fixed costs and variable costs to providing Locast service. Operating as one national not for profit allowed Locast to smooth out the costs over all users. In a market like NY the reception and backhaul costs would be easily covered and only bandwidth and server capacity would need to grow per simultaneous user. In a more rural market the reception and backhaul costs costs would be spread out over less users. (Backhaul is getting the signal from the receiver to the server.) One not for profit per market would not allow Locast to spread those costs across all users - they could end up with a collection of services where one market would be $1 or less per month and a smaller market would be closer to the $5 they requested. Multiple local Locasts would help burn through their overcharges in administrative costs since each market would have separate administrators.

Perhaps using excess donations to cover the cost of expansion will be overturned on appeal. The wording of 17 U.S. Code Section 111 (a) (5) is narrow, but seen as one service another judge could reverse the ruling.
 

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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.
 

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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.
If a court saw the refund of excess donations as distributing "profits" to private individuals that would violate the non-profit rules.
 

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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.
Why did none of the non-Big 4 stations join the lawsuit?
 

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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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Why did none of the non-Big 4 stations join the lawsuit?
All four major networks were involved in the suit against Locast. That would include the stations that the networks own.
 

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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?

And yes I know Locast suspended operations. Too bad
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...
Sinclair has been the most enthusiastic backer of our new OTA TV transmission standard, ATSC 3.0, and for years now they've talked up getting ATSC 3.0 tuner chips included in mobile phones. They even partnered with an Indian chip maker to come up with 3.0 chips that can be used across lots of device types, including mobile. They produced a small batch of Android smartphones with those chips embedded last year for testing purposes and said that they were in talks with two MVNOs to distribute ATSC 3.0-equipped phones. AFAIK, nothing more has come of those efforts though.

https://www.lightreading.com/cablevideo/atsc-30-reaches-smartphone/d/d-id/765098

I don't really see OTA TV in smartphones taking off. Can't see how it's in the interests of the mobile carriers (Verizon, T-Mo, AT&T) or Apple or Google, for that matter, which means we'll never see widespread inclusion of the tuner chips in smartphones (similar to how we've never seen widespread inclusion of FM radio capabilities in smartphones). And if it did start taking off, my guess is that the broadcast networks would force their 3.0 affiliates to disable free reception by smartphone of their high-value broadcasts like live NFL. Nope, they want those folks to pay to watch via their subscription streaming services like Paramount+, Peacock Premium, etc.

That's the weird thing about free OTA TV in general. None of the companies involved in offering it -- the broadcast networks and their affiliate stations -- really want *that* many people to use it. They instead want you to pay to access those channels via a cable TV subscription, of which they get a nice cut. Those cable retransmission fees constitute a big chunk of broadcast stations' and networks' revenue. But at the same time, allowing some folks to access those channels for free, via OTA antenna, does help boost their viewership numbers, and therefore their ad revenue, which is also important. So they don't want to cut off those folks or make it too hard to tune in via antenna.

The main advantages of ATSC 3.0 are supposed to be easier, more reliable reception with small indoor antennas, along with significantly improved picture and sound quality. Those advancements, it seems to me, would only encourage more people to cut the cord on cable TV, buy a cheap antenna, and get their locals for free (while getting most of their entertainment from paid apps like Netflix, etc.). Which is probably why we've never seen any real statements of support for ATSC 3.0 from Disney/ABC, Comcast/NBC, ViacomCBS, or Fox. If you're going to dump cable, they want you to still pay for their content via the streaming services they own, e.g. Hulu, Peacock, Paramount+ (where they're not sharing any of the subscription or ad revenue with their local station partners).
 

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If the Red Cross takes in more money than they need for actual expenses this year should they be shut down?
The only disasters that LOCAST faces are equipment failures and those may cost hundreds to fix once in a while, not millions per month.
 

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The only disasters that LOCAST faces are equipment failures and those may cost hundreds to fix once in a while, not millions per month.
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...
 

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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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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.
They've canceled donations for now. I expect the lawyers are going through their options at this point, to work out the strongest path forward.
 

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And that still leaves a lot of stations that could lose out if there was any financial settlement when this is all settled.
The goal is to PREVENT unpaid carriage of the signals. With Locast going out of business there probably won't be much of a financial settlement to share. Just a big warning sign to others that might have the same brilliant idea as Aereo and Locast to rebroadcast OTA TV stations (and their networks) without permission and without paying royalties.

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.
Per 17 U.S. Code Section 111 (a) (5) the money they collected for access to the service CANNOT be used for anything other than providing the retransmission. They are free to collect money from other sources (voluntary donations, corporate support, etc) for their legal defense fund. They are free to collect money from other sources for their expansion fund. They can maintain as big of a fund as they want for any purpose that doesn't violate other not for profit laws. The issue is that they used money collected in exchange for uninterrupted access for purposes other than providing retransmission.

The court saw their books, so I will defer to the court's judgement as to how their fees and donations were allocated.
 

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I suspect it will be the ruling that the completely voluntary donations are in fact "charges" or "assessments" that will be the primary subject of any appeals. If that ruling is overturned, I think Locast wins...
 

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They've canceled donations for now. I expect the lawyers are going through their options at this point, to work out the strongest path forward.
In my opinion, they should charge a minimal access fee that would be close to or not cover the cost of retransmission ($1 per month, $10 per year ?) and solicit separate donations not tied to access to cover the expenses not covered by the minimal fee (or not allowed to be covered by the fee). The law allows a user fee. It just restricts how that user fee is spent.

There are other legal issues pending in the case. 17 U.S. Code Section 111 (a) (5) was the key piece of law that Locast was relying on. Fixing their violation of that law doesn't fix any other violations that may have occurred. I do not expect Locast to be able to return to service until ALL of the legal challenges have been settled. (Correcting their violation of 17 U.S. Code Section 111 (a) (5) would not be enough.)

Perhaps the next company to attempt such a service will do better.
 
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