Case Study: A Finnish Broadcast Company uses a Lotus-based email and GroupWare solution

Yleisradio, YLE ( the Finnish Broadcasting Company ( has fused email, database and GroupWare software to create a Computer Aided...

Yleisradio, YLE ( the Finnish Broadcasting Company ( has fused email, database and GroupWare software to create a Computer Aided Radio production solution

Yleisradio, YLE ( the Finnish Broadcasting Company ( has developed a Computer Aided Radio (CAR) system that fuses News Edit For You software tools with multi-track editors to create news and current affairs programmes. These tools reside within a framework imparted by Lotus Notes GroupWare, providing unified messaging and workflow management across a network of local radio stations.

"The user interface has been tuned with help of standard Lotus Notes tools to suit our journalistic production needs at the Finnish Broadcasting Company's local radio [stations]," says Arto Veräjänkorva, who is the head of development for Radio Finland and the chairman of the CAR project team.

The Lotus Notes system is used to edit news broadcasts, update the events calendar and air actual broadcasts. By being able to process materials ( supplied by other YLE departments ( on different events into news, local radio stations can operate like small news agencies. Together, they are able to form a network whose own production of news broadcasts is supported by the system.

Where tapes used to flow around the company's various departments, materials are now linked to the actual editing system via GroupWare software. Each news item can be edited, exchanged and linked to interviews to create longer items of interest with just a few clicks of a mouse.

The News Edit and Lotus GroupWare applications are part of a larger software package. Planning and broadcast management, editing and music management are handled by a system provided by Radio Computing Services (RCS). The various applications process the information pouring in from many directions into stories, which are then organised by the RCS system. With the help of Lotus Notes, taped sound can be added to a text file.

"A story can include both a written commentary section and an interview made on the sound editor which is linked to an icon. If needed, additional commentary can then be added after which it is transferred to the RCS runlist where it can reopened for reading. During the broadcasting stage, the reader only needs to click on different icons to start interviews rolling," explains Veräjänkorva.

Veräjänkorva points out that the system is not just a tool for making programmes. Another key aspect is the teamwork dimension. "The producer's role in this system is vital. The producer can monitor and guide department activities. Decisions regarding the nature, emphasis and structure of stories are indicated on production forms. The producer can allocate tasks by giving these forms to journalists to complete. In principle, a journalist comes to work, opens the system, looks to see what jobs are waiting and starts work. When a story is finished, clicks on a button and sends the story to the broadcast list."

The CAR system is based on a "fixed" daily list which is designed and built separately and includes story documents or slots which need to be edited during the day. In addition to stories, the CAR system maintains the department's event calendar and bulletin service, both of which are linked to the daily list.

This project was piloted at Oulu local radio in 1997. Because the pilot proved to be a success, the system was chosen as a tool for all local radios. The CAR system, which has been fine-tuned along the way, will next be introduced at the early-morning radio station in Helsinki, Tampere Radio and Radio Häme.

According to Veräjänkorva, ready-made solutions were also available. "Actually, we got involved in the product development process well in the middle of it. Sofor, which built the user interface, had already done a great deal by that time. We made a careful study of the systems on the market. The selection was between complex news systems in use in both radio and TV companies as well as quite basic systems. The news system was, however, too expensive and inflexible for our needs. On the other hand, we were not satisfied with any of the simpler solutions. Sofor's tailor-made system met our needs perfectly."

In addition to increased productivity, one of the biggest advantages of the new editing system is that it allows for the making of integrated programmes instead of separate programme sections. "This is the first system, as far as I know, that integrates a digital sound system with a production system," says Veräjänkorva.

Compiled by Will Garside

(c) Lotus Corporation 1998

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