Broadcasters sue nonprofit that streams free network television

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The major broadcasting companies including NBCUniversal, Fox Corp., CBS Corp. and ABC have filed a lawsuit against a nonprofit backed by AT&T that runs a service that allows users in some cities to stream television networks for free.

Locast, operated by the Sports Fans Coalition, allows users in 13 cities including Washington, D.C., New York and Chicago to watch some television networks for free. Reuters reported Wednesday that the networks have filed suit arguing that the nonprofit is a front for AT&T to avoid distribution fees by streaming their content without consent.

{mosads}Sports Fans Coalition has received direct monetary support from AT&T — a $500,000 donation last month — and the company hosts Locast’s app on its DirecTV and U-verse receivers, according to Reuters.

“Locast is not the Robin Hood of television; instead, Locast’s founding, funding, and operations reveal its decidedly commercial purposes,” read the broadcasters’ court filings obtained by the news service.

An attorney for Sports Fans Coalition countered in a statement to Reuters, however, arguing that the organization was on “sound legal footing” due to its nonprofit status while pointing out that “Locast has been operating for more than a year and a half, and no broadcaster has filed until now.”

AT&T merged with Time Warner Cable in an $83 billion deal earlier this year despite efforts from President Trump to order the Justice Department to file a lawsuit to block the merger.

Tags AT&T DirecTV Donald Trump Television

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