Feb 2, 2010

An iPhone app tailor-made for This American Life

The latest public radio offering in Apple's iTunes App store is from This American Life. For $2.99, iPhone users gain access to the 15-year archive of This American Life radio programs; episodes of the Showtime television series can be downloaded for an additional fee. Public Radio Exchange developed the app in collaboration with producers of TAL and Chicago Public Radio. "There is no doubt: it is a high-end app," says Jake Shapiro, PRX executive director. "A lot of ingenuity went into it, and back-and-forth about what it needs to be. It needed a lot of development time to make sure it was high-performing." Among the app's nifty features: customizable searches allowing users to find their favorite episode or contributors, sharing tools, and a countdown clock encouraging users to live stream the first broadcast of each weekly episode, Friday evenings on Chicago Public Radio. “Note, ours is the only app providing a hand-held Geiger counter for the live show that drives interactive media inexorably backwards to 1968,” says WBEZ President Torey Malatia, in a PRX release. PRX recently received CPB funding to upgrade and relaunch its Public Radio Player, the free iPhone app providing access to the web streams of public radio stations, and to create a new local station app in collaboration with WBUR.

Administration budget seeks to link NTIA and FCC on spectrum project

President Barack Obama's new budget proposal includes extending the FCC's authority to auction spectrum "indefinitely," according to Broadcasting & Cable. That move would free up space for wireless broadband carriers. The budget is looking for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the FCC to collaborate over 10 years "to make available significant spectrum suitable for both mobile and fixed wireless broadband use." Many broadcasters say spectrum is not available, because it's already being used for HDTV and muliticasting and mobile DTV. The FCC is undertaking a spectrum inventory this year, FCC Commissioner Michael Copps told the CPB Board of Directors at a meeting last week.

POV docs receive two Academy Award nominations

Two documentaries airing on POV this year are among Academy Award nominees announced this morning. “Food, Inc.,” scheduled for April 21, and the ITVS co-production of “The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers," also running in 2010, were both nominated for the Best Documentary Feature award. The Oscars for outstanding film achievements of 2009 will be presented at 8 p.m. Eastern on March 7 from the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. There's a full list of nominees on the Academy's website.

Pubcasters' requests among those rejected for broadband stimulus money

At least three public broadcasting requests for broadband stimulus funding have been turned down. The site, which tracks news about the effort, reports that the federal agency overseeing the grants, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), is mailing out around 1,400 rejection letters and updating its online database to reflect the nonfunded applications. Included in the rejections: Mississippi Public Broadcasting, which wanted $2.2 million for a public computer center for children and childcare providers; Florida Public Broadcasting Service, which requested $22.8 million for a HELPS (Health, Education, Local, Public Safety) Network; and PBS, asking for $8.7 million for an eight-station local and national partnership (California, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Virginia) to combine content and outreach programs to stimulate demand for educational broadband content. For background, see Current's Sept. 21, 2009, story.