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14 March 2011


Michael V Marcotte

Thank you Stephen for an exhilarating read.

I'm blown away, really. This is the most comprehensive, innovative, visionary, entrepreneurial... and downright *necessary* proposal for public media's future that I've ever seen.

This proposal is truly generous in its consideration of all stakeholders. I do not think station leaders, as a general proposition, oppose progress of the sort presented here.

There is at least one unaddressed concern here: what of the competing national brands? APM? PRI? Are they to fold into the NPR brand? Or compete with it? (You seem to suggest the national service entity would have the NPR brand.) Worth asking.

I'd like to share this with others and do what I can to support it. That is, implement it!

Mike Marcotte

Stephen Hill

Thank you for your enthusiastic comments, Mike.

You're right, it's a not entirely clear what the role of the the other public media networks and program distributors would be in the ultimate scheme of things. I do say that the membership transaction should be able to occur at any entity that is part of the system. So users could sign up on the sites or apps of APM, PRI PBS (or other qualified affiliates) as well as NPR. Those membership revenues become part of the rev-share pot regardless of where they originate.

As it stands NPR, APM, PRI, PRX and PBS are already cooperating to create the Public Media Platform. So I see no real barrier to all of them participating in the kind of public-facing service I've described. At the moment they are sticking to the B to B model, I would guess simply to avoid controversy and get the PMP up and working.

For reasons of efficiency, cost and performance, the server side of this really wants to be a single, cooperatively managed infrastructure. Once a user signs in to the service, they are interacting with a large integrated machine: one master database, and one coordinated architecture for storing, serving and delivering streams, files and web applications, in the same way that YouTube is one coordinated technical infrastructure.

Today I plugged in my Apple TV box and looked in the Radio section for the first time. There was the NPR stream, the PRI stream, and several others that are part of the public media family.

So there is nothing to prevent PRI and APM from doing their utmost to define and extend their own brands, both on the Public Media Platform and beyond it, as part of a paid service and with open streams like we see today on the web and on digital boxes like Apple TV. That's "freemium" in action.

:: SH

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  • Gerd Leonhard
    'media futurist' and entrepreneur
  • Dennis L. Haarsager
    I'm a university administrator responsible for public broadcasting and educational technology.