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Yahoo! has launched a site that helps people find and listen to podcasts.

The Yahoo! Podcast site, launched in beta on Monday, features a directory of podcasts and enables consumers to rate and review podcasts. The site is being pegged as a resource for all things podcast-related, providing users with tools such as a how-to guide explaining how to create your own podcast.

"Yahoo! Podcasts will help people find the content they want, discover new content, personalise their experience and share feedback," said Geoff Ralston, chief product officer of Yahoo.! "We're excited to help grow the podcasting community by giving consumers easy access to new and interesting forms of open content, and helping podcast publishers reach a broader audience."

Simply put, podcasting is subscribing to and downloading audio content, such as radio broadcasts or "audio blogs" onto a digital music player such as an iPod. While the name podcasting suggests the practice refers only to iPods, podcasts can in fact be downloaded to all MP3 players via a computer that is equipped with podcasting software.

The free service, which is available at http://podcasts.yahoo.com, is primarily focusing on making it easier for consumers to search through the tens of thousands of podcasts available on the web. In addition, users will be able to integrate with the Yahoo Music Engine, which will enable them to subscribe to podcasts and have new episodes automatically delivered to them via the Yahoo! Music Engine.

Podcasting has become somewhat of a phenomenon in the past year, particularly in the US where figures from Pew Internet and American Life suggest that over six million Americans - almost a third of the estimated 22 million who own MP3 players - have listened to podcasts.

Copyright © 2005, ENN

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