If Google Podcasts is already your go-to place for consuming podcasts, you might be running into trouble with BBC. For the past week, the British media giant has been blocking its content from Google Podcasts, and Assistant by extension.
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Noted by Podnews (via Android Police), the BBC blocked support for Google Podcasts sometime on March 19th. While the change hasn’t affected new bulletins on Google Assistant, it has removed or stopped adding new content for listeners on the company’s Podcasts app. This means BBC podcasts are also not showing up with Assistant requests on speakers and phones.
The BBC has already had a “consultation” with Google to restore the content. That process involves Google signing a license with the BBC to link to their podcasts and also adhering to the Distribution Policy which requires that Google supplies user data to the BBC. Apparently, the BBC is blocking Google from accessing its content via a robots.txt file. Notably, this is something most podcast apps don’t look at, so Google is essentially voluntarily honoring the request of the BBC in this case.
As Podnews further points out, this data is already readily available to the BBC due to the nature of podcasting. Displaying a podcast through an app already links back to the source by using its RSS feed, and because of that process, the user data is readily available to the BBC. The outlet describes the license requirement as “impractical,” stating that it could “mean the end of the open and distributed nature of podcasting, if the BBC gets their way.”
Most likely, this is an attempt by BBC to push more of its users from third-party podcast apps over to BBC Sounds, especially looking at the fact that some other audio content from the publisher has been removed from free distribution and made exclusively available through that app.
A BBC spokesperson commented the following on the matter:
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