Public Media Platform, Phase One, Kicks Off

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PRX is a lead partner in the newly announced Public Media Platform project — to build a digital distribution network enabling public media content to flow more easily among networks, stations, producers, and beyond. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting is funding the pilot phase over the next six months, bringing together the major national public media networks: American Public Media, NPR, PBS, Public Radio International and, yours truly, PRX.

The project kicked off yesterday, when NPR President and CEO Vivian Schiller announced it at Wired’s Disruptive by Design conference. Wired does a good job of explaining the project here.

Here’s Jake’s official statement about the Public Media Platform:

PRX is an open distribution network that connects thousands of producers and stations to broadcast, Internet and mobile opportunities. We are excited to collaborate on the development of the Public Media Platform and share our expertise in creating innovative technology to expand the range of voices and stories reaching the public.

(What he’s really saying is: Yes. It’s about time.)

The primary role of the lead partners is as content providers, but PRX also brings deep expertise in technology, issues of rights and revenues for content distribution, and experience in sustaining an open platform that showcases new voices and incentivizes participation by content providers and presenters. We’ll also help focus on the issues that affect PRX’s membership — a diverse mix of over 2,500 independent producers and local stations.

It’s worth nothing that this is not the first time public media has proposed the creation of a shared backend distribution system. A few years ago, Jake was part of the Digital Distribution Consortium — a business planning and design project that laid much of the groundwork for today’s discussions.

The Public Media Platform project is currently a six-month planning and proof-of-concept phase, and PRX, along with our partners and the advisory group, will be communicating frequently about our progress on this important initiative.

The full press release, issued jointly by all the partners, follows:



Washington, DC; June 14, 2010 — Public radio and television have kicked off an ambitious effort to develop a digital distribution network that will allow public broadcasters and web producers to combine, create, share and distribute their news and cultural content.

The effort is being spearheaded by five national producers: American Public Media, NPR, PBS, Public Radio International (PRI) and the Public Radio Exchange (PRX). It was announced today by NPR President and CEO Vivian Schiller at the Wired Business Conference on behalf of the partners.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) has provided nearly $1 million over the next six months to create development plans and a working prototype of what the partners are calling the Public Media Platform (PMP). NPR is administering the grant that will fund the planning phase. Fully developed, the PMP will serve as a powerful technology backbone enabling today’s non-compatible systems to connect, allowing for unprecedented access and flow of content.

The goal is to develop a broad digital network that will invite and support innovative uses of public media content, and match – or exceed – the impact of public radio and television today. Currently 37 million people listen to public radio stations every week, experiencing a seamless mix of local, national and international news, and music largely neglected by commercial radio. Public TV educates, entertains and informs over 118 million viewers every month.

The PMP will allow public media producers – and potentially others outside public media – to combine their content in a shared platform and make it available for a wide variety of public uses, from news sites to educational curricula.

At the core of the PMP is an open Application Programming Interface (API) that will simplify the task of sharing, combining and distributing news and educational content to member organizations and the general public. It will be available to established organizations such as the five public media partners, as well as public radio and TV stations, independent producers, and non-traditional, mission-focused content creators and developers who see value in aligning their efforts with public broadcasting. Ultimately, it will fuel the delivery of more quality news and programming that engages and informs communities. Some of the uses of the PMP include mobile apps, third party sites (from major news aggregators to niche websites), blogs, mash-ups, and widgets.

The PMP is bringing a group of innovative advisors to the table to offer their ideas and expertise on how to best serve audiences, communities and users of the PMP. An Advisory Council will meet regularly over the next six months alongside the PMP leadership team.

The Council, with more members to be named soon, consists of leaders from public radio and television and mission driven technology and journalism organizations: Document Cloud, iTVs, KPBS, KQED, Louisville Public Media, Mashery, Miro, National Black Programming Consortium, North Country Public Radio, the Station Resource Group, and WGBH.

About the PMP Partners

The PMP partners bring a distinctive and complementary set of assets to this endeavor and a track record in digital innovation and collaboration. When they are linked together, they will achieve a critical mass of compelling content that will inform and enrich the lives of more people in more ways.

American Public Media is the nation’s second-largest producer of public radio programs, reaching 16 million listeners each week with mainstays such as A Prairie Home Companion, Marketplace, and Speaking of Faith. As the parent organization of Minnesota Public Radio, Southern California Public Radio and Classical South Florida, American Public Media brings station management leadership and experience in launching ground-breaking projects such as the Public Insight Network and the Public Radio Tuner.

CPB is a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967 and is steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,100 locally-owned and -operated public television and radio stations nationwide, and is the largest single source of funding for research, technology, and program development for public radio, television and related online services.

NPR is public radio’s largest producer, an influential force in American life. In collaboration with more than 880 independent public radio stations nationwide, NPR strives to create a more informed public – one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas and cultures. NPR was among the first media organizations to launch a comprehensive API (application program interface) which powers and other public radio sites, an innovation that has made the rapid development of NPR and public radio applications possible.

PBS with its nearly 360 member stations, offers all Americans — from every walk of life — the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and online content. Each month, PBS reaches more than 118 million people through television and nearly 21 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’ premier children’s TV programming and its website,, are parents’ and teachers’ most trusted partners in inspiring and nurturing curiosity and love of learning in children. PBS has extensive experience in digital platforms, including its successful video players for general audience and children’s content, as well as well as apps for iPhone, iPad and other projects.

PRI brings a successful track record of leading and managing complex, multi-partner projects and experience creating and distributing innovative content; PRI was also the founder of Public Interactive, now under NPR’s management, a provider of digital tools and technology to move than 300 public media stations.

PRX is public media’s digital network, pioneering new paths in content and technology, and serving as the largest aggregator of independent and station-produced content in public media.

For a PMP concept graphic –
Potential uses of PMP: