Here Come the Public Media Platform APIs

Last week, National Public Radio (NPR) announced the formation of a new non-profit organization to oversee development of a Public Media Platform (PMP) which "will allow public media producers and stations to gather their digital content in one place, and cost-effectively distribute it across digital platforms." The PMP also received $8 million in funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) to support building APIs to provide access to that content.

Public media newspaper Current reported more details, including the fact that "CPB provided an $8 million grant for the PMP’s build-out over the next 21 months and its startup through May 2017." The PMP's five founding organizations are American Public Media (APM), NPR, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), Public Radio International (PRI), and Public Radio Exchange (PRX), each of which has an officer on the board of the directors.

If all this sounds familiar, that's because NPR has been working on building unified public media APIs for some time. Back in 2006, NPR attempted to start a "Digital Distribution Consortium (DDC)" to "develop a business plan for a digital distribution service for public media." That project continued into 2007 but ultimately went nowhere. In 2008, NPR launched its own API for public radio content.

In 2010, NPR took its PMP proposal to CPB, which subsequently provided a $1 million grant to fund the project. NPR then announced its plans to scale up the existing NPR API to Function as a PMP prototype. What was supposed to be a six-month "proof of concept" continued on for more than two years, but the latest report from Current details specific deliverables and price tags:

  • $900,000 goes to NPR "to support its work to make its API into the backbone of the platform."
  • $5 million goes to the five founding organizations (APM, NPR, PBS, PRI, and PRX) "to cover the costs of uploading their content into the PMP," starting in late 2013, and to PRX specifically for mobile app development.
  • $2 million goes toward covering PMP's operational expenses through May, 2017, and that amount "will be matched by revenues raised" by the non-profit itself.

NPR registered the domain back in 2010, and though they've yet to create a web presence for the new PMP, they seem determined to make public media APIs happen, sooner or later.

(Hat tip: Current)

Be sure to read the next Government article: Contest on Making Government Work: Is There An App for That?