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Podcast Services Help Users Connect With New Content

Listeners can catch podcasts on the Web as streaming programs or subscribe to every issue in an ongoing series by using a client, also called a podcatcher.
Microsoft has announced plans to integrate support for RSS throughout the Windows Vista operating system. "This will make creating, viewing, and subscribing to content of all types, including podcasts, easier for users," says Unangst. Microsoft is also working with companies like Doppler to ensure it can take advantage of the open architecture in Windows Media Player for its podcast applications.

Moving forward, podcasting will evolve thanks to ongoing experimentation by content creators. “That’s what’s happening now,” said Ted Schadler of Forrester Research, a technology and market research company. According to Schadler, there will also be disillusionment with podcasts--people may discover that the thrill wears off and they don’t have time to listen to them. "Then there will be value-driven adoption, where consumers find and regularly listen to things that they truly value and can’t get any other way," he said.

Lewin, of PodcastingNews.com, believes podcasting will keep growing until broadcasters look at podcasting first and radio as an afterthought. "Podcasts can make money from Internet distribution in addition to radio distribution," she said.

Anything can be recorded through podcasts, which may draw some red flags. The FCC does not regulate podcasts and some material that comes through may be offensive. Some observers believe podcasting is a vehicle for free speech and unlikely to be regulated.

“With podcasts, the notion of political free speech is clear: Podcasts, like blogs, are a powerful and global distribution network for political commentary," said Forrester's Schadler.

Understandably, this is a contentious issue. In August, Pod Show Inc., launched the PodSafe Music Network. An independent online community, PodSafe Music Network connects artists, podcasters, and users in an environment where music can be used royalty-free and free of restrictions imposed by the recording industry.

How long podcasting remains free of FCC oversight and the long arm of the recording industry and other interests remains to be seen.

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Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
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John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
Astrid Gobardhan, Data Privacy Officer, VFS Global
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing