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Six ponder the needed infrastructure

Originally published in Current, July 17, 2006
By Mike Janssen

Some folks like to kick back during the summer, but for members of the NPR-appointed  Digital Distribution Consortium, the last month has been anything but relaxing.
Over a six-week period, the group will develop a business plan for a digital distribution service for public media. Their efforts grew from talks that began at the Integrated Media Association conference in February and continued through the NPR-led New Realities National Forum in May.

The consortium’s members are:

The consortium won’t try to dictate how digital content will be presented and consumed, members say. Instead, they’re considering outlines of a digital infrastructure and tools that will enable stations, networks and others to develop their own innovative means of delivery and presentation.

“For example, a group of stations could partner with local theaters to create a regional arts destination site, using syndicated content and data from the DDC,” Shapiro said in an e-mail. (Shapiro put the text of his Current interview and other DDC updates on his blog at

Among other functions, a digital distribution infrastructure could also aggregate digital content; serve the content to stations, networks and end users through various receiving devices; and make the aggregated content searchable and consistent with metadata standards. PRX, PI, the Open Media Network and NPR’s ContentDepot and podcast project are related digital content providers that could eventually support or feed into the DDC’s work.

NPR is paying for the consortium to meet in Boston, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., and footing the bill for consultants assisting with the process. DDC members will report on their work at this month’s Public Radio Development and Marketing Conference in New Orleans, and Shapiro will report to members of the Station Resource Group at the group’s August retreat.

To keep its planning process open to scrutiny, the DDC maintains a wiki at Mundt is also blogging about the consortium’s work at

Web page posted July 17, 2006
The newspaper about public TV and radio
in the United States
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Copyright 2006


By the end of the IMA Conference in Seattle, NPR's Maria Thomas was detecting movement toward a consensus on a shared back end, March 2006.

How much demand for on-demand pact? Ahead of NPR meeting this week, talks focus on shared "back end," May 2006.

NPR has had recent experience with a shared online infrastructure, as manager of public radio's podcasting initiative.


NPR rallies system to jointly build 'trusted space,' July 2006.


Digital Distribution Consortium public wiki.