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NPR talks up mobile standards and localism with FCC

Two National Public Radio biggies met with the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday to chat about subjects dear to the hearts of developers and policy wonks alike: local programming and mobile radio standards.

“The purpose of the meeting was to provide information to the Commission about actions by NPR and its public radio partner stations to more fully employ web and mobile platforms for distribution of NPR and other public radio system content,” concludes a summary of the ex parte meeting filed with the agency. “The outcome of these NPR initiatives will be a more informed, engaged population.”

NPR spoke to the FCC about its local journalism venture, a $1 million partnership with the Knight Fund awarded in September, and about  its Public Media Platform, “which is a common information architecture for all public broadcasting entities.”

Earlier this month NPR announced its new mobile site, which can now be accessed by the Android phone. The point of the project, as the service’s December 8 blog post explains, is to create a site that most mobiles can view.

“Remember the browser wars?” the post asks.

“Back in the late 90s, before software manufacturers embraced the Web standards we enjoy today, Web developers had to create a different Web site for every web browsing program. With the emergence of the mobile Web, browser wars are back in a big way. Now that there are hundreds of mobile devices, each with its own browser and software limitations, developers are faced with a complex dilemma. Do we build something mediocre that works everywhere, or do we push the limits of the technology by building for only the best devices?”

NPR thinks that the site, which it built with the help of Finnish software developer Conmio, will work “on even the most basic feature phones,” but will also offer “advanced features for a select group of devices, such as iPhones and Androids.”

As for the localism project, no surprise that Knight is in on this. The foundation supported a just released study that raps public radio for being insufficiently local. So chalk this partnership up to the spirit of we-put-our-money-where-our-mouth-is.


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