Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch Torches Locast “Theft” On Q4 Earnings Call

Lachlan Murdoch
Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch Matt Baron/Shutterstock

Fox Corp. CEO Lachlan Murdoch ended his prepared remarks at the top of Fox Corp.’s earnings call with Wall Street analysts to blast Locast, the organization being sued for streaming local TV signals.

“Simply put, Locast is a rogue streaming service violating the copyright laws for commercial gain, nothing more,” Murdoch said. “Locast’s claim to be a non-profit that is not operating for any direct or indirect commercial advantage is absurd. It operates for the clear commercial benefit of the corporations that support it.”

Last week, the Big Four broadcast networks (including Fox) collectively filed a lawsuit in New York targeting Locast, which carries streams of local stations. The case is something of a repeat of the Supreme Court drama over Aereo earlier this decade.

Several pay-TV distributors, notably AT&T and Dish Network, have supported Locast financially and pointed customers to it during recent carriage battles with programmers. Tensions grew over the service last month when AT&T clashed with CBS, whose stations in 14 markets went dark amid a contract impasse.

“We’re confident in the merit of our claim against Locast,” Murdoch said. “The Locast theft is, of course, a validation of the irreplaceable value of our brands and the content that they carry.”

Asked later on the call by an analyst to elaborate on his Locast comments, Murdoch declined.

Earlier this summer, AT&T donated $500,000 to Sports Fans Coalition NY, the entity that operates Locast. The telecom giant said at the time that its donation would “support SFCNY’s mission to make free broadcast content available to consumers and offer them more choice.” It had integrated Locast into DirecTV satellite and U-verse cable set-top boxes, which makes it easier for viewers to access.

Supporters of Locast, which was founded in 2018, say it complies with copyright laws permitting the “boosting” of local TV signals.

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