Westminster Digital Ltd – a corporate profile
Westminster Digital was formed in January 1999 from a strong broadcast background. Parent company CCT Productions Ltd. has televised the UK Parliament since 1991, and with a keen interest in convergent media, formed the webcasting subsidiary.
One of the company's first clients included the governing Labour Party, with a live webcast of the leader (Tony Blair) speaking to his annual party Conference in the summer of 1999, and a corporate webcast for pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca. Westminster Digital hit the ground running.
A preliminary joint venture with American webcast network TVontheWeb saw the launch of The Parliament Channel, which rapidly became one of their most popular channels. Seeing live coverage of unique events, such as Prime Minister's Question Time, live on the web proved quite a draw to worldwide viewers.
The live parliament webcast is available at http://www.westminster-digital.co.uk/parliament with searchable video courtesy of Mediasite. It's searchable Parliament! While it is still in a demonstration stage, full searchable parliament should roll out this year. For students, broadcasters or just the interested citizen, it turns the linear broadcasts of Parliament into a value-added tool.
However, Westminster Digital isn't just about webcasting politics. Various government departments have used the company for webcasts, and its commercial sector is now taking the lead.
Quite possibly, it's the fact that the company won the tender to provide all webcasting services for the relaunched "Number 10 Downing Street" website (http://www.number-10.gov.uk) that made a big difference. Says a Number 10 spokesman: "Their broadcasting product is high-quality and has been delivered consistently throughout our collaboration with them. We also rely on Westminster Digital for advice and we trust their expertise."
Philip Haggar, Director: "With the trust of one of the top 'clients' in the country, it didn't take long for the corporate webcasts to come flowing in, not least of them supporting the internet webcasting for Raw Communication's coverage of the EMI/Time Warner merger, including the major analysts conference call, conference webcasting work for Cable and Wireless and The Budget webcast for FT.com."
The "men in suits" at Westminster Digital also took the opportunity to change their dress code a little and start webcasting live concerts for http://www.thepopcam.com - the first couple of concerts already completed in Quicktime 4.1 (putting WD at the forefront of service providers offering Apple's streaming format in the UK). Even without the suits, the "trust" was still there as thepopcam.com's founder commented: "I am Mr Deliriously Happy and I firmly believe we have just created the finest webcast of a live music event ever to have appeared on the Internet."
Westminster Digital also helps non-profit organizations when the commercial costs are prohibitive. Recently, both RNIB (http://www.rnib.org.uk/) and Childnet International (http://www.childnet-int.org/) have taken up offers of help.
The company is taking a bigger role in streaming media too. Company Director Philip Haggar recently took over as Chairman of the European chapter of the International Webcasting Association (IWA). For details see: http://www.iwa-europe.org/.
Most recently, Westminster Digital has expanded its portfolio of business webcast products with a partnership with 1414c (http://www.1414c.com/), the new PictureTel subsidiary. Westminster Digital will be offering 1414c's eVAS technology to both government and corporate customers in the United Kingdom and throughout Europe. (1414c offers live webcasting of slides, video, audio, interactive chat and surveys through a web browser interface.)
Westminster Digital is certainly looking to be a market-leader in webcasting "live from London".