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COX AND PRODIGY TO LAUNCH NETWORK THAT CAN BRING EVERY NEWSPAPER INTO THE INTERACTIVE AGE

 NEW YORK, July 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Cox Newspapers and Prodigy Services Company have agreed to launch a nationwide interactive network that allows newspapers, regardless of size, to combine print and local electronic services for their readers. The two companies have signed a letter of intent and will encourage other newspaper groups to join them in forming a consortium that will market the network to local newspapers.
 Atlanta-based Cox said its newspapers in Atlanta and West Palm Beach, Fla., will move immediately to begin developing the service. Cox's Austin American-Statesman, in the state capital of Texas, will offer the service somewhat later.
 Cox and Prodigy said the network combines the local editorial and marketing strengths of newspapers with the immediacy, reach and storage capacity of the nation's most-popular interactive computer network.
 Cox owns the Atlanta Journal and Constitution and 15 other newspapers in Florida, Texas, Ohio, Arizona and Colorado. Its parent company, Cox Enterprises, Inc., operates 24 cable systems and 20 television and radio stations. Cox is also a leader in auto auctions. Prodigy, a joint venture of IBM and Sears, operates the PRODIGY service, which has more than two million individually enrolled members nationwide.
 Consumers will connect to services on the new network with home computers and, in the future, other devices. The first local versions will debut later this year in Atlanta and South Florida. The Journal and Constitution and the Palm Beach Post will provide an array of local services including locally hosted community bulletin boards, databases of material originally published in print, expanded analyses and background information on current news articles, restaurant reviews and directories of community and educational services. They will also promote the PRODIGY service locally.
 Prodigy currently delivers the PRODIGY service to personal computers through telephone lines. However, the company has announced its intention to deliver a variety of services through cable TV systems to television sets as well as PCs. The local information that will be created on the new network can eventually be delivered through cable systems. Sixty percent of U.S. homes have cable service. Cox Cable, another division of Cox Enterprises, is considering the delivery of interactive services like PRODIGY for distribution in a number of its major markets -- possibly San Diego, the Hamptons Roads area of Virginia, Oklahoma City and Omaha, Nebraska.
 The Cox-Prodigy consortium will develop a turnkey product that local publishers can use to create interactive services. Prodigy will provide the national computer network through which information can be exchanged between newspapers and readers. The combination of the turnkey product and Prodigy's existing network makes it easy and affordable for any newspaper to launch electronic services.
 Although the Cox newspapers in South Florida and Texas will lead the way in developing a Prodigy-newspaper relationship in their regions, Cox Newspapers President David E. Easterly said, "We have no intention of over-reaching, and would be delighted to see other area newspapers come on board to serve their readers."
 Current PRODIGY service members will be able to subscribe to local newspaper services for a small additional monthly fee. Newspaper readers who are not PRODIGY members can subscribe to the local services separately with optional access to the national PRODIGY service on a per-minute or per-month basis.
 New Revenue Source
 Local newspaper advertisers will have a new way to communicate with their customers and can join the dozens of major national retailers and manufacturers already on the PRODIGY service. A number of merchants, such as Sears and J.C. Penney, who are long-time advertisers in local newspapers, also use interactive advertising on PRODIGY as part of their marketing mix. Catalog merchants such as Lands' End use PRODIGY to broaden their reach. The new local interactive services will give local advertisers similar capabilities and will provide additional revenue to participating newspapers.
 James C. Kennedy, chairman and CEO of Cox Enterprises, Inc., said, "The newspaper industry has needed a clear rallying point for creating these kinds of services in local markets. Prodigy has a network in place across America and can provide an attractive affiliation opportunity for large and small newspapers alike. We don't have to invent the technology to participate and we don't have to spend years trying to reach technical standards with other publishers to become a player in these exciting electronic businesses."
 Expanded Information
 Easterly said most newspaper stories would carry references to further related information that would be available to the PRODIGY network. "We can print only about 10 percent of the information we have available on an average day," he said. "The cost of newsprint is the limiting factor. Computer storage is relatively cheap and will enable us to greatly expand the information we provide."
 For example, at the end of a printed article about a local political campaign debate, a newspaper will direct readers to archived candidate speeches, biographies, and anthologies of columns from the paper's political writers. Readers can also participate in a bulletin board discussion of the candidates' positions, take part in polls, or write electronic letters to candidates.
 Dennis Berry, publisher of the Journal-Constitution said, "This new electronic medium means we can get back in the business of reporting really local information like police reports, fire calls, civic club meetings, house sales, Little League scores and the like. We had to give up most of that years ago because of the cost of newsprint."
 In addition to news and advertising applications, Berry said the newspaper is exploring the interactive network's potential for students. "Kids are growing up on computers the way their parents grew up on television. We think this is a perfect method to keep them informed."
 The graphical interface of the PRODIGY service is well suited to local maps and charts. With optional new software to be released this fall, PRODIGY members using Microsoft Windows will be able to select photographic-quality images along with news stories.
 Easterly said he believed that newspaper relationships could significantly increase membership in the PRODIGY service while adding value simultaneously to Prodigy and participating newspapers. "The ultimate marriage of newspapers with Prodigy is a natural," he said.
 "We're Ready To Talk"
 Prodigy President Ross Glatzer said, "We intend to become the standard electronic link between the readers and publishers of major newspapers nationwide. We're ready to talk to all publishers and we're prepared to move quickly."
 The PRODIGY service offers hundreds of national features including such financial services as stock trading, learning experiences for children, more than 750 bulletin board topics, national and international news, electronic mail, reference materials, consumer databases, travel services, games and shopping.
 -0- 7/7/93
 /CONTACT: Brian Ek of Prodigy, 914-993-8811, or Lynda Stewart of Cox Newspapers, 404-843-5123/


CO: Cox Newspapers, Prodigy ST: New York IN: CPR SU: PDT

TM -- NY074 -- 9270 07/07/93 21:05 EDT
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Date:Jul 7, 1993
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