Get the latest market trends in your inbox

Stay on top of the latest market trends and economic insights with the Axios Markets newsletter. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Minneapolis-St. Paul

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa-St. Petersburg news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa-St. Petersburg

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Screenshot from Locast's website

ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC are suing to shut down Locast, a non-profit, over-the-air broadcast TV streaming service that they say serves as a commercial prop for AT&T and Dish Network Corp.

Why it matters: The lawsuit has been a long time coming. Critics have argued that Locast's offering is similar to that of Aereo, another over-the-air broadcast streaming service that was shut down in 2014, shortly after the Supreme Court ruled against Aereo in a similar copyright case brought by broadcast networks.

“Locast is simply Aereo 2.0."
— Gerson Zweifach, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs, in a statement alongside the lawsuit

Details: In a lawsuit filed in a federal court Thursday, the networks claim that Locast, which launched last year, violates a 1976 federal copyright law by illegally transmitting their broadcast signals to customers for free.

  • Locast argues that a legal exemption approved by Congress decades ago shields them from having to pay for the retransmission rights because Locast was created as a non-profit servicing a local jurisdiction.
  • But plaintiffs say Locast shouldn't be shielded by the exemption, since the service isn't truly local and because Locast is being propped up by Pay-TV companies for "decidedly commercial purposes." As proof, they point to its founding by a Dish lobbyist and $500,000 in donations from AT&T earlier this year.

How it works: Locast's model presumably benefits pay-TV services, like AT&T and Dish, who typically have to pay heavy transmission fees to rebroadcast their content to their customers.

  • For Pay-TV providers, redirecting broadcast traffic to a free service could weaken the leverage that broadcast networks have to charge the Pay-TV services for their content, because viewership to paid services would presumably go down.
  • The plaintiffs argue in their lawsuit that the free access would also impact their advertising revenue. Locast strips measurement watermarks from the signals that the networks use to measure viewership for selling ads.

Yes, but: For consumers, it's a great deal. Today, consumers can access their favorite broadcast channels for free by using TV antennas in their homes. Locast allows them to access their favorite broadcast channels for free via the internet.

The big picture: The spat is part of a larger existential crisis facing the traditional TV industry. With a record number of people "cutting the cord," or cancelling their Pay-TV subscriptions for cheaper digital alternatives, fights between TV content owners and distributors have grown more frequent and more intense.

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Health

Food banks feel the strain without holiday volunteers

People wait in line at Food Bank Community Kitchen on Nov. 25 in New York City. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York City

America's food banks are sounding the alarm during this unprecedented holiday season.

The big picture: Soup kitchens and charities, usually brimming with holiday volunteers, are getting far less help.

5 hours ago - Health

AstraZeneca CEO: "We need to do an additional study" on COVID vaccine

Photo: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said on Thursday the company is likely to start a new global trial to measure how effective its coronavirus vaccine is, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: Following Phase 3 trials, Oxford and AstraZeneca said their vaccine was 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving.
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions.
  3. World: Expert says COVID vaccine likely won't be available in Africa until Q2 of 2021 — Europeans extend lockdowns.
  4. Economy: The winners and losers of the COVID holiday season.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!