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Yahoo Joins Podcast Party

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NEW YORK Yahoo has launched a podcast-finding service, joining Apple and America Online in a bid to make the emerging medium more popular.

Yahoo Podcasts, available at podcasts.yahoo.com, lets users find and rate podcasts from traditional media companies and independent producers. It includes a search function and the ability to download programs to any MP3 player.

Yahoo said it would also launch tools for consumers to create their own podcasts.

Apple recently added a podcast section to its iTunes Music Store, and AOL last month began its own podcast search engine. Smaller players like Blink.tv and Podcast Alley offer similar services.

Podcasts, which are audio programs that can be downloaded to portable music players, have joined blogs as part of a wave of consumer-generated media. The Pew Internet and American Life project estimates six million Americans have listened to a podcast, including 29 percent of MP3 player owners and 50 percent of those between 18 and 29.