Mike Homer and Marc Andreesen's Open Media Network went public beta today. The non-profit Open Media Foundation has been working with the Public Service Publisher initiative, a group of public radio and television producers, executives, and others (including me.) Here is the PSP announcement as posted to public radio and television CEO lists:
I have important news of the first step in the realization of the Public Service Publisher initiative that was announced last winter. This week, thanks to some hard work and a serendipitous relationship with a like-minded non-profit called the Open Media Foundation, the PSP effort takes a big step forward with a public beta of the Open Media Network, http://www.omn.org. We see this collaboration with OMN as a way to demonstrate the appropriate technology and business organization needed for distributing public service media in the coming decades.
We are doing this because we realize that as stations we have an economic model that, ironically, values content we don’t own and devalues content we do. We build audiences around excellent national programming we rent from NPR, PBS and others. From this we generate a few cents per listener or viewer hour in audience-sensitive revenue. Income from local programming is, with some notable exceptions, lower. When we get squeezed economically, guess what programming gets cut? This is not a recipe for long-term success.
So what should stations do? Those of us who’ve been involved in this effort believe that a new economic model is needed to enhance the local service component of our mission. We also believe that tools are now available that can make a publisher model work for local stations, their community partners, independent producers and even some podcasters. These state-of-the-art tools – long-tail aggregation, search, personalization, DRM, metadata management, syndication, etc. – can attract new audiences beyond our core, generate a wide variety of revenue streams and generate an archive of local assets that demonstrate lasting value to tax-based and foundation funding sources.
The beta implementation you will see at omn.org does not have all its features implemented (more will come mid-summer), but over the next few weeks you will see an increasing amount of content from my stations, KQED, WGBH, and a number of others; you will also see some RSS content from non-public broadcasters that OMN has 'vacuumed up' to demonstrate the service. We would like to invite you to contribute content at no charge that is rights-cleared for downloading. Delivery is via the Internet now but will ultimately come via multiple platforms.
To this beta we plan to add the ability for you to embed these tools within your web site’s look and feel; program listings; third-party ordering and fulfillment; permission-based integration of media usage with membership records; fair-use recording; business-to-business services, and more as the service evolves.
I must remind you that just as local stations no longer have a lock on non-local programming, the online space is now ripe for other entrants. Barriers to entry are low and other players are moving quickly. There’s an urgent need for public broadcasters to move now or we will lose this opportunity. OMN provides a platform to do this with minimal cost and immediate impact.
We invite you to visit and participate in the omn.org demo and also to visit our projects web site at http://technology360.typepad.com/psp to get more information. I'll be happy to address any questions either on this list or privately.
Dennis L. Haarsager, GM, Northwest Public Radio, KWSU/KTNW-TV
For the PSP core working group
Which includes myself as ad hoc chair; Steve Gillmor, ZDNet; Stephen Hill, Hearts of Space; Skip Pizzi, Microsoft; Tim Olson and Rich Winefield, KQED; and Steve Rathe, Murray Street Productions. Mark Fuerst, Integrated Media Association, has also provided helpful counsel. Also helpful was an exploratory meeting held in Chicago in December 2004. Participants included most of the core working group plus representatives of the Coalition for Networked Information, Colorado Public Radio, the Station Resource Group, WGBH, and Wisconsin Public Radio and Television. Additionally, a key document was vetted with a large number of public broadcasting executives.