In the wake of free software leader Richard Stallman’s visit to New Zealand, state-owned radio network Radio New Zealand has begun delivering some of its shows in the Free Software Foundation’s favoured Ogg Vorbis format. Webmaster Richard Hulse says Windows Media Audio and MP3 are in use by the network. “Before launching the site, we worked out what platforms people were using and targeted the formats to those. The aim was to make it as simple to listen as possible, and for more than 90% of people it is a simple click and listen operation,” he says. Mac and GNU/Linux users can set a preference to get MP3s instead, he says, but for live streams extra software has to be installed. Hulse says the use of Ogg Vorbis has been in the planning stage for a while, but was delayed while he worked out a way to rationalise Radio New Zealand’s storage. “I had to work out how to add a third format without increasing running costs,” he says. Hulse met Stallman during the latter’s tour of New Zealand, in August. “Richard Stallman’s recent visit to NZ was a good chance to try it out on the public and see if there was support for it,” Hulse says. “We’ve had good feedback, and people are downloading the files, so I have decided to roll it out right away.” The Saturday Morning programme and Nine to Noon were the first off the block. Also now in Ogg Vorbis are Mediawatch and Morning Report. The Ogg format is not encumbered with software patents and is designed for efficient streaming. It is maintained by Xiph.org.
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