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ABC, NBC News launch news podcasts

Networks repackage TV newscasts as on-demand audio programming and join the growing podcasting community.

ABC News and NBC News each plunged into the world of podcasting on Wednesday with plans to offer TV newscasts as on-demand audio programs over the Web.

Podcasting software allows listeners to download audio shows for free, play them on computers and digital-music players when they want and subscribe to updates. The term comes from Apple Computer's iPod, the digital-music player that's taken the consumer electronics market by storm.

ABC News is now offering podcast versions of "Good Morning America," "Nightline" and other programs via ABC News.com. The network is also creating several podcast-only shows. One, "The AfterNote," offers political commentary every evening and builds on "The Note," the network's morning newsletter. It also plans to deliver four one-hour podcast exclusives, including "Real Life Desperate Housewives with ABC's John Stossel" and "Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith--The End of an Era."

For its part, NBC plans to start podcasting hourly news updates from select cable and network programs in June. The podcasts will include highlights from prime time shows, including MSNBC's "Hardball with Chris Matthews" and "Countdown with Keith Olbermann." They'll feature business, political and technology headlines from MSNBC.com too, the company said.

Segments from "Today" and "NBC Nightly News" and programs created exclusively for podcast are on tap as well, the network said.

The move into podcasting is an acknowledgment that people are consuming more media from new kinds of devices and in new formats, said Jeff Gralnick, a technology and Internet consultant to NBC News.

"We're dealing with an audience that's no longer rooted to their television sets," Gralnick said. "It's a much more mobile audience. It's a much busier audience."

Podcasting began to take off last year, when thousands of amateur DJs jumped on the technology. Now big media companies and some public figures are experimenting with it.

National Public Radio offers some of its shows in podcast format. Democratic Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, who ran on the John Kerry ticket in the 2004 presidential election, has a podcast of his own. Infinity Broadcasting, which owns 180 radio stations across the country, has launched a radio station in San Francisco with programming consisting exclusively of podcasts.