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Cox Newspapers, BellSouth Form InfoVentures

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Cox Newspapers, BellSouth Form InfoVentures

Article excerpt

Cox Newspapers Inc. and BellSouth Advertising & Publishing Co. Inc. have completed an agreement to develop and market electronic information services that include newspaper classified and Yellow Pages advertising.

The subsidiaries of Cox Enterprises Inc. and BellSouth Corp., both based in Atlanta, become equal partners in InfoVentures of Atlanta, which will have its own management team operating and overseeing all aspects of the business. Access to the electronic advertising is expected in the spring.

Pending approval of the Georgia Public Service Commission, InfoVentures services will be available via the 511 telephone number, for which users are billed 50 [cents] a call. Cox' Atlanta Journal and Constitution already use 511 on a trial basis to provide round-the-clock updates on sports, stocks, weather, entertainment and other topics.

The 24-hour updates now accessed by dialing 511 will be folded into InfoVentures and renamed the Answer Machine. The new Classifieds Now and Yellow Pages Now services, which will begin as phone and fax services, may expand to videotex, PC and screenphone services.

Classifieds Now callers will be able to search constantly updated ads in such categories as automobiles, real estate and employment. Operator-assisted Yellow Pages Now will locate Atlanta-area businesses and services that correspond to a caller's specified needs. It also will offer direct connection to a selected business.

BellSouth spokesman Tim Klein said callers would describe desired goods or services to an operator, and the operator would help narrow the search. By start-up next year, however, that may change, he said. Cox Enterprises telecommunications vice president Jim McKnight said that in some cases, an interactive automated system may be a caller's first contact, with operators available for back-up services.

Although Cox is hopeful that the Georgia commission will grant 511 access for InfoVentures, McKnight said the service is not wedded to the easy-to-use, inexpensive phone number. …

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