July 31, 2008
Danielle Deabler, NPR
Dan Jensen, PRI
TO GROW PUBLIC INTERACTIVE®,
PUBLIC MEDIA'S LEADING WEB SERVICES COMPANY
July 31, 2008; Washington, D.C. and Minneapolis - After working together to explore options for strengthening the digital infrastructure of the public broadcasting industry, NPR and Public Radio International (PRI) have come to an agreement that NPR will acquire Public Interactive (PI), the public media Web services company owned by PRI. PI will become a part of NPR, and NPR will involve PRI in growing it to provide the strongest tools, services, and solutions for public radio and television stations, producers, and distributors around the country.
PI, the innovative Boston-based application service provider, was founded in 1999. PRI and NPR will work together to ensure a seamless transition for PI's staff and clients. Debra May Hughes, who has served as President and Chief Operating Officer of PI since 2005, will continue to lead PI and play an integral role in its expansion of tools and services.
The existing service will evolve to further help public media strengthen and grow its digital distribution capabilities. It will manage the utility and support functions for distribution on diverse media platforms; support the infrastructure; reinforce digital cooperation across public media; help define technical and operating standards; provide increased station support and staff development, including training on digital tools; and develop new products and services to enrich stations' and content producers' digital activities. As a result, stations will have the resources to introduce greater functionality, engage in new community partnerships, and generate more value in the digital space while leveraging limited resources.
PI will act as a neutral utility serving all of public media, similar in philosophy to public broadcasting's satellite distribution systems. It will also continue to operate as a fee-for-services business.
PRI and NPR will work together and with other industry leaders on several significant, immediate steps to further PI's growth and services, including conducting a station consultation process, supporting editorial collaboration, and establishing common standards and interoperability across public media. PRI will manage all sales and marketing efforts through a transition period, expected to run until the end of 2008.
This new move reflects PRI's and NPR's shared vision of the future potential of public broadcasting in digital media and both organizations' strengths.
"PRI is proud of its innovator role in creating Public Interactive and this partnership with NPR is a natural evolution of that process," said Alisa Miller, PRI President and CEO. "Last fall, PRI began exploring how to expand PI's role to become an even more essential digital infrastructure provider, benefiting public media while maintaining its station-centric approach. Today's digital environment demands that our industry come together to meet our behind-the-scenes digital infrastructure needs, allowing each of us to redouble our distinctive efforts to inform, engage, and enlighten Americans with our unparalleled content. We value NPR's leadership in helping to create interest in an industry-based infrastructure, and are pleased to be working with them."
Dennis Haarsager, Interim Chief Executive Officer, NPR, noted, "Public radio is vibrant and vital to American society, and its digital media capabilities must be as well. NPR is committed to supporting stations and producers with viable digital tools and services that will help enhance their multimedia presence, help grow audiences, and build new community partnerships, and we believe that this new relationship will serve the system well. We applaud the work PRI has done to take PI from a concept to an important service in public broadcasting, and we look forward to building on that framework in partnership with PRI and the public media community."
Debra May Hughes, President and COO, PI, added, "We've succeeded over the past decade by working closely with stations to develop the exact online tools and features they want to strengthen ties to their audiences. We see that there is a tremendous opportunity for stations to be even more relevant online, and we're excited to help them take full advantage of this opportunity."
PRI founded PI nine years ago to serve stations' unmet online needs, and it was launched with support from a consortium of 15 public broadcasting licensees. Since then, its innovative suite of Web tools and services has revolutionized stations' online offerings. PI currently serves 170 subscribers who collectively operate 325 public radio and television stations; additionally, its clients include public radio and public television program producers such as "Car Talk," "The World," and "The Tavis Smiley Show." As part of NPR, independent of NPR.org and NPR's Digital Media division, PI will continue to have clients choose the content feeds they prefer, build their own pages, and customize their Web sites based on their needs and plans. PI's development and operations have historically been financed by a combination of fees from subscribing stations and support from such sources as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Ford Foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies, and the PRI New Venture Revolving Fund.
About Public Radio International®
Founded in 1983, Public Radio International leads media by producing, acquiring, and distributing innovative content that enables U.S. audiences to "hear a different voice," bringing new voices, global journalism, and cultural perspectives to the American public. Through partnerships with BBC World Service and station-based and independent producers, the Minneapolis-based network provides over 400 hours of programming each week, content that is broadcast and streamed online by 827 PRI affiliates nationwide, whose radio broadcasts reach over 29 million listeners each week. Podcasts of PRI programs consistently rank in the top U.S. 100. PRI is also managing partner of the satellite radio company American Public Radio LLC, established with Chicago Public Radio®, WGBH Radio Boston, and WNYC ®. PRI programming is available via XM Public Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio. For more information on PRI and its programs and services, visit www.pri.org.
Since its launch in 1970, NPR has evolved into a leading media company, award-winning news organization, and dominant force in American life. NPR produces and/or distributes more than 1300 hours of programming weekly, including more than 150 hours of news, information, talk, entertainment, and cultural shows for 860 NPR Member stations, with 26.5 million listeners weekly. NPR programs two 24/7 channels for Sirius satellite radio and five 24/7 music multicast channels for HD Radio; additionally, with more than 90 podcasts, NPR is the most successful podcaster among American media companies. Its 24/7 NPR Worldwide program stream reaches listeners in more than 100 countries. www.NPR.org offers extensive original audio, video, photography, and text content, as well as nearly 15 years of NPR programming archives. NPR Music, launched in November 2007 as a free music discovery destination, has concerts, interviews, blogs, reviews, artists index, and features spanning all music genres. NPR's continuing expansion in digital media includes NPR Mobile, in partnership with Member stations nationwide, and the NPR Open API, launched July 2008.