Jorma Pilke: "Mikaeli is the flagship of multiradio"

Mikkeli's Net Radio Mikaeli is the flagship of the FBC's multiradioradio, says the head of multiradio Jorma Pilke. Mikaeli started as the FBC's first purely digital multimedia radio unit.

The FBC's production is fast moving towards the digital and computer-based. This is simply caused by economic realities: Producing programs by computer is considerably cheaper than using old analog technology.

- Traditional FM- and Ula-radio frequencies were also becoming scarce. There was no more space for special radio channels and their additional services. New digital distribution channels for radio and television create new possibilities for local and national special channels. Nettiradio Mikaeli produces content and develops the new production system on the road towards a digital future, says Pilke.

Local digital programming

The first digital television broadcasts will be made towards the end of August 2001. Among other things, the beginning of digital television means that programming dedicated to science, education, and culture will increase considerably over time.

Yle Teema will begin broadcasts on its own digital channel.

- Every region has an opportunity to start its own production points for science, culture and educational radio. Several regions have been interested in having their own radio channels, and the FBC has offered them the Internet as an initial distribution channel, explains Pilke.

However, Etelä-Savo has not displayed any undue amount of interest, despite the work of Mikaeli in making the possibilities very familiar in the region. This puzzles Pilke.

- Sources of funding for content production need to be found: University units, other educational institutions, municipalities, parishes and organizations. The Finnish Broadcasting Corporation as a cooperating partner offers security: For example, it ensures that the technology and equipment works as intended.

So far, Nettiradio Mikaeli has operated on regional development money. With few exceptions, local organizations have not invested a penny in program production. This kind of situation isn't sustainable, of course. In other multiradio areas universities, parishes, and organizations fund content production. The expenses aren't exactly sky high. In addition to Mikkeli, educational radios exist in Helsinki, Turku, Kuopio and Lahti.

Several uses for the same material

Public broadcasting is going through a period of change all over Europe. According to Pilke, traditional production structures need to be changed to make digital operation and the related "versioning" of content possible.

Reusing content means putting material to several uses: radio and television programs; Internet and magazine articles; national news or articles for education radio and archive material for websites.

Mikaeli has studied reusing journalism as long as it has existed.
- Mikkeli is prepared for the changes in public broadcasting. Mikaeli doesn't need to adjust, since it's already capable of creating new multimedia, praises Pilke.

A data bank for educational radio

Last year the FBC started DAB multiradio in Uusimaa, with a transmission system that connects all multiradios and the Internet.

- In the future an effort will be made to connect all the educational radio systems together as one production network, which will make transferring content as files to all interested parties possible. Most of our cooperative partners exist outside of the FBC, and therefore we have to develop a new distribution and production model for multiradio.

However, the most current topic is the beginning of digital television and the creation of regional programming to meet its needs.

- The Mikkeli region will be among the first to get in on this. Mikaeli will be ready when digital television starts in August, assures Pilke.

Interviews by Tuula Huoviala. Translations by Ville Häkkinen.