A coalition of public media organizations, including NPR, have decided to purchase the podcasting application known as Pocket Casts in an effort to exercise additional controls over the distribution of their original content. They have also stated their purchase was driven by a desire to add a consumer-facing channel to compete with Spotify and Apple.

Pocket Casts was owned by Australian mobile app developer Shift Jelly and is responsible for the distribution of around 300,000 unique shows. Podcasts in general currently attract about 73 million Americans who listen at least once a month, according to a 2018 Edison Research survey.

Unlike the app used to distribute NPR’s current regiment of podcasts, Pocket Casts is an open platform that has a much larger distribution model. With this purchase comes all of the user data that Pocket Casts has collected up to this point. That data was willingly given to Pocket Casts, not NPR or any other company involved in the purchase.

So, will this coalition of public radio stations allow the original users of Pocket Casts to opt-out of allowing their user data, which includes their viewing history, to be transmitted to them?

This seems like a pretty fair question given the amount of airtime NPR dedicated to bashing Facebook for their use of user data without the users knowledge, even though one agrees to the sharing of their data when they sign up. Are they at least going to offer the original users of Pocket Casts an option to retrieve the data collected on them prior to the acquisition?

If NPR’s broadcasting is genuine, one would think they would want the original users of Pocket Casts to have an opportunity to prevent their data from being shared or used against their consent. After all, that was one of the many demands that NPR was suggesting with regards to the Facebook debacle.

This is a more egregious exploitation of user data than Facebook engaged in. The reason why this is so much worse than Facebook is, people willingly shared their information with Facebook and Facebook doesn’t appear to have sold it. However with this acquisition, this coalition of public radio stations literally just bought the user data from Pocket Casts to use however they wish. With Facebook, at least people knew their data was stored with Facebook. How many of the users of Pocket Casts could foresee their user data being sold to a slew of public radio stations? Instead of one entity having access to that user data, now there is a coalition of companies with access to that data. All of which are starving for cash as they wring money from their listeners.

Surely NPR will never use the data they collect from this purchase to target users with advertisements, right? WRONG!

They claim to want to add a consumer facing channel to compete with Spotify and Apple. How on Earth would NPR get their content seen by more people in order to compete with names such as Spotify and Apple? Oh wait, you do that through advertising. So NPR is going to target the users of Pocket Casts with their brand of monotone commentary that has resulted in them requiring taxpayer funds to stay afloat.

The taxpayer bailouts handed to public radio stations such as NPR should cease immediately. They have peddled nothing but identity politics while their CEO has admitted maintaining a liberal bias with regards to their political commentary. Maybe they will report a story on how they plan to use the data acquired from Pocket Casts, but something tells me that story will not make it on their airwaves. If they were to report on their use of unwitting users personal data, they would be forced to paint themselves in a negative light just as they did with Facebook.

It truly is amazing how fast the tables can turn when hypocrisy is the pillar that supports your entire philosophy. It brings to mind their scant coverage on the dismissal of Tom Ashbrook, the host of NPR’s On Point.  Mr. Ashbrook was recently fired for sexual misconduct and multiple investigations have corroborated the claims made by multiple staffers. Sadly, the only coverage NPR seemed to devote to reporting the NEWS regarding Mr. Ashbrook was on a lowly Sunday afternoon when ratings are at their lowest. They reported on Bill O’Reilly’s dismissal from Fox News around the clock for over a month, but they cannot find the objectivity to report on one of their own.

 

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