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Webcasting -- The Latest in Communications.

An increasing number of companies are using Web conferencing to announce events, new products and information in an interactive format to anyone, anywhere, at any time Video and audio conferencing offers companies many advantages when they need to communicate with shareholders, investors, employees, consumers or the news media.

Web conferencing, or "Webcasting" as it is commonly called, is a powerful communications medium that is user-friendly, efficient and completely in sync with the new realities of a connected world. Large North American companies are now using it to reach a diverse audience across the globe. Video and audio conferencing offers companies many advantages when they need to communicate with shareholders, investors, employees, consumers or the press.

In addition to being economical, online conferencing facilitates business interaction, providing real-time communication any time, thereby eliminating time zones and distance as barriers. The introduction of high-speed and broadband networks has accelerated the use of this technology, as it offers image quality practically on par with VHS. With Webcasting technology, it's almost as if companies now have access to their own mini radio or television stations. Provided they have the necessary equipment, companies can broadcast annual, half-year and quarterly reports, launch or demonstrate new products or services, and hold press conferences from any location.

On Webcasts, for example, companies can give a detailed explanation of how their financial performance relates to their strategy or objectives because they can bring in experts to support their presentations. The impact is completely different from that of a traditional presentation. The possibility for a company with offices worldwide to reach all its employees instantly and simultaneously can be immensely appealing for delivering training, seminars or regular communications. Any company can easily equip itself for Web conferencing, but there are also firms that specialize in providing turnkey services, giving companies access to a broad range of communication opportunities.

Canada NewsWire (CNW) has teamed up with Yahoo! Broadcast for some Web conferencing services, and has become one of the leading Webcast providers in Canada, with hundreds of companies across the country using their services. The packages are flexible and include options, such as conference archiving (a potentially costly option owing to the space a one-hour Webcast requires), customization of Web pages during events and viewer statistics reports.

Available in real time or pre-recorded, interactive or not, with or without video, tailored solutions allow companies to broadcast their message to meet their needs. If it's a two-way link, viewers can ask questions or make comments online or by telephone.

Teleglobe, a provider of global communications and Internet services, announced in March 2001 its first commercial offering of its content distribution services, and ran a demonstration of its multimedia audio and video broadcast in real time, direct from Milan.

"Teleglobe's content distribution services illustrate how the Internet has evolved and continues to evolve," says Lisa Donnan, Teleglobe's president, US. sales and e-business solutions. "As the Internet continues to evolve, our content distribution capabilities will naturally expand. These rich media management services bring new opportunities for businesses that are innovative and creative in their approach to communications." Other global telecommunications leaders can be expected to jump on the bandwagon and start offering similar services to stay competitive.

There are three main Webcast systems or multimedia content readers that online users must have to view Webcasts. RealNetworks is the most common system and is used by more than 80% of viewers. Windows Media Player, whose market is smaller than RealNetworks, is free with the complete installation of Internet Explorer 5.0. And Quicktime, whose market is smaller than RealNetworks' but larger than Windows MediaPlayer's, is used mostly by Macintosh users and is the most recent system in terms of video and audio streaming.

Webcasting is evolving rapidly and the use of Webcasts has increased exponentially in the past year or so. It is already clear that business applications are well-suited to audio and video conferencing on the Web, and the increasing number of Webcasts seems to suggest that this powerful communications medium will be commonplace in the near future.

Julie Demers ( is the associate French editor of CMA Management magazine.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Society of Management Accountants of Canada
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Demers, Julie
Publication:CMA Management
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Sep 1, 2001
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