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Westman Communications Group began life as Westman Media Co-operative in 1977. Its first television broadcast was sent down the cable to 3,951 homes in Brandon and 143 in Carberry on September 19th, 1978. The enterprise has since grown significantly and now markets itself as "Westman", providing services to over 26,000 homes in 42 western Manitoba communities. Over 80 percent of these Westman members have access to over 190 channels, compared with 35 channels in 1997!
This highly successful business, started by volunteers, is owned and controlled by its Co-op members, and run by an elected Board of Directors. Equity from the members' patronage is the financial foundation of the Co-op, supporting its operations and growth. Over the years, Westman has upgraded its Cable systems and added services wherever feasible. In many communities, it now offers Digital Television, High Definition Television (HDTV) and High Speed Internet. In fact, Westman now provides the fastest Internet available in Manitoba.
In 1999, Westman was the first to launch a new Digital technology called HITS (Head End-In-The-Sky), which enabled Brandon to have Digital Television before it was available in Toronto. In 2000, these advances using Digital technology and High Speed Internet resulted in Westman being named by the Canadian Cable Systems Alliance as Canadian Cable Operator of the Year.
This recognition of excellence is echoed in regular customer surveys, where Westman is consistently rated in the 80th percentile for customer satisfaction. In addition to great customer service and innovation, diversification has also been key to Westman's success. To that end, Westman executives have kept growth focused in communications and information technology.
In 2003, Westman Communications Group purchased Westman Radio (formerly Riding Mountain Broadcasting Ltd.), which operates radio stations Q Country 91.5FM and 94.7 STAR FM. The stations have proven a sound investment for the company and the purchase diversified Westman's revenue sources into other communication business areas.
Westman introduced its Home Phone service to Brandon in 2008, ending a monopoly that MTS held for over 100 years. This service was available soon after in Shilo, Carberry, Minnedosa, Neepawa and Dauphin. This service is continuing to expand to some of our other locations.
Renowned for its good corporate citizenship, Westman annually provides over 22,000 hours of local programming through WCGtv; gives out 30 high school, college and university scholarships; provides commercial-free, educationally relevant television programming to over 80 western Manitoba schools, free of charge; and contributes both time and money to all manner of local charities, teams, and events.
With an annual gross income over the $30 million mark, over 125 employees, and a payroll of nearly $5 million, Westman is a key member of western Manitoba's business community. The company has a well-trained and dedicated workforce, the resources to finance continuous improvements, and a proven track record of wise decision-making from its board of directors and its executives. The future remains promising for this local Co-op, and for its members.