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By Loreth Beswetherick Most Whistlerites will know Peter O’Donnell as the face behind the video camera from his days as director of community television programming for Whistler’s Cable 6. O’Donnell may have left the local cable station but he is still in the business of broadcasting images of the community. The only difference is now his audience is worldwide and the video visuals are aimed at an international tourist market. Under the electronic umbrella of his new company — MTN Multimedia Inc. — O’Donnell has created the Whistler Internet Channel, a local TV channel the whole world can watch. His product is something born out of the courtship stages of the imminent marriage between internet and television. Its applications, said O’Donnell, are endless. "But right now it’s more a promotional tool." At the moment the Whistler Internet Channel features a continuous stream of Whistler Resort Association video loops showcasing Whistler. Viewers log on at any point during the screening, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The next step, said O’Donnell, is building the content to provide an hour of programming that will play continuously in time for the 1999/2000 ski season. He has based his internet channel on a traditional television model, complete with advertising space as a revenue generator between programming. O’Donnell said the largest section of the hour-long video stream will be promotional videos aimed at whetting the appetite of potential guests to the resort. Businesses, like tour operators providing outdoor experiences, will pay for the screening of two- to five-minute clips that sell their wares. O’Donnell said a prerequisite is that the videos be professionally produced. They will be designed to entice viewers to request more information by either visiting the featured company’s web site or calling a toll-free number. Promotional content will likely swallow 45 minutes of the loop. Another eight minutes will be dedicated to what’s happening in Whistler that week. It will be updated every Tuesday, said O’Donnell. This clip will feature a "local guide" who, in TV presenter style, will outline activities and festivals happening in the resort for that particular week. An element of interactivity will be introduced through a "tell me more" segment where viewers will be encouraged to contact the local guide with questions about the resort which will be answered within three business days — some of them "on-air." The "Whistler this Week" component will be financed through the sponsorship of one or two local companies. For example — "the Boot Pub presents Whistler this Week." In addition to the fresh weekly component, O’Donnell will inject a two-minute "Whistler Today" feature which will be updated every 24 hours. Digital video footage will feature on-hill and village activities plus a visitor-of-the-day interview. "The interviewer will ask tourists, for example, Bill and Betty Smith of Seattle, how they are enjoying their stay," said O’Donnell. This segment too will be sponsored, but by gifts. "For example, said O’Donnell. "Gaitors Restaurant would present Bill and Betty the Whistler Today award of a dinner for two." The advertising space in the loop will be sold in six 30-second and eight 15-second slots. The longer slots will feature full motion video ads and the shorter ones could be either full motion or graphic. They will be placed as buffers between the video segments. "It’s really like a Whistler TV channel for the internet but the whole world can watch instead of something like Whistler Cable, where the viewers are limited," said O’Donnell. The streaming video technology he uses, unlike video clips, requires no downloading. "The content is all stored on my company’s server," said O’Donnell. "It takes up no extra memory on the viewer’s hard drive and you don’t have to wait until the whole video clip is downloaded before you start watching. That’s the benefit to the viewer." His channel even has potential for a news component. O’Donnell has linked his Whistler Internet Channel into what is becoming Whistler’s main on-line information hub — the www.gotowhistler.com site which received 10,000 unique hits in its first three weeks of operation and is expected to average 1,000 hits a day by December this year. O’Donnell said links are also being distributed free to web sites that attract viewers contemplating or planning a trip to Whistler. In the coming months he plans to secure links to sites including mountainzone.com, blisstours.com, mytravelguide.com, channelseek.com, vtourist.com, skitco.com and travel.com, among others. His site can be found at www.mtnwhistler.com. In addition to his channel, O’Donnell is in the business of using his streaming video technology to provide video clips businesses can add to their websites.

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