Q. I can’t believe we lost our ABC station today in the Atlanta area. We have DIRECTV. Is there anyway to keep watching our ABC channel? My husband said there was an app called Locast. Would that work? And is it legal? — Sandy, Buckhead, Georgia.
Sandy, DIRECTV, U-verse and AT&T TV this morning lost roughly 25 local TV channels due to a fee fight with their management team, run by the Cox Media Group. (You can see a list of the channels below.) We don’t know when the two sides will reach a new carriage agreement so it’s not too early to consider some alternatives.
Locast is one of several ways you can continue watching a local channel even if your satellite, streaming or cable service doesn’t carry it. It’s a free service that delivers local channels over the Internet in 28 markets, which represent roughly 48.2 percent of the United States.
You download the Locast app on a computer, tablet or Smart TV device, such as Roku, provide a name and e-mail address, and suddenly you are watching all your local channels.
It’s sounds like a great deal. But for many satellite subscribers who don’t have access to high-speed Internet service, Locast is a no-go. Plus, it’s only available in those 28 markets.
But what about your market, you ask? Is Locast available in every Cox Media market that’s now blacked out on the three AT&T-owned TV services?
Unfortunately, the answer is no. In fact, Locast is only available in five of the affected markets (representing seven of the 25 channels that were pulled from DIRECTV, AT&T and U-verse.) Here’s the list of the blacked out Cox Media channels, and their Locast availability:
KFFX-TV (Fox, Yakima, Washington) – No Locast
KYMA-TV (CBS, NBC, Yuma, Arizona) – No Locast
KIEM-TV, KVQX (NBC, CBS, Eureka, California) – No Locast
WSYT-TV (Fox, Syracuse, New York) – No Locast
KLAX-TV (ABC, Alexandria, Louisiana) – No Locast
WABG-TV, WXVT-TV (ABC, CBS, Fox, Greenwood, Mississippi) – No Locast
WICZ-TV (Fox, Binghamton, New York) – No Locast
KMVU-TV (Fox, Medford, Oregon) – No Locast
KAYU-TV (Fox, Spokane, Washington) – No Locast
WSB-TV, Channel 2 (ABC, Atlanta, GA) – Locast is available
WFXT-TV, Channel 25 (FOX, Boston, MA) – Locast is available
WSOC-TV, Channel 9 (ABC, Charlotte, NC) – Locast is available
WAXN-TV, Channel 64 (IND, Charlotte, NC) – Locast is available
WHIO-TV, Channel 7 (CBS, Dayton, OH) – No Locast
WFOX-TV, Channel 30 (FOX, Jacksonville, FL) – No Locast
WFOX2-TV, Channel 32 (MNT, Jacksonville, FL) – No Locast
WHBQ-TV, Channel 13 (FOX, Memphis, TN) – No Locast
WFTV-TV, Channel 9 (ABC, Orlando, FL) – Locast is available
WRDQ-TV, Channel 27 (IND, Orlando, FL) – Locast is available
WPXI-TV, Channel 11 (NBC, Pittsburgh, PA) – No Locast
KIRO-TV, Channel 7 (CBS, Seattle, WA) – Locast is available
KOKI-TV, Channel 23 (FOX, Tulsa, OK) – No Locast
KMYT-TV, Channel 41 (MNT, Tulsa, OK) – No Locast
Update: Locast on February 5 added Sacramento to its list. Eureka, CA, about 20 miles away, has a CBS and NBC station blacked out in the AT&T-Cox Media fee fight. However, I checked a few zip codes on Locast and the Sacramento service doesn’t seem to be available in Eureka. If you live in Eureka, though, it’s worth a try based on your zip.
As for Locast’s legality, the major broadcast networks (CBS, ABC, Fox and NBC) say no. They have filed a lawsuit to declare the service to be illegal. The networks claim that Locast is violating their copyright by transmitting their signals without their permission. In 2014, the networks won a similar lawsuit against Aereo, which sold their signals without authorization.
Locast has filed a counter lawsuit claiming it’s different from Aereo because it’s a non-profit service (it asks users for donations) which should exempt it from the Copyright Act.
The legal battle is still pending, and it’s unclear when it will be resolved. So until then, Locast is legal.
Sandy, note that the Atlanta area is one of the markets where Locast is available. But for the other markets, you might want to check out an antenna, or CBS All Access to replace a blacked out local CBS station.
Hope that helps. Happy viewing, and stay safe!
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— Phillip Swann