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 ATLANTA, Oct. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post has

become the first non-telephone company in history to win the right to provide information to callers who dial a simple, three-digit number.
 If the Florida ruling is applied in other states, the effect could be a whole new way for newspapers to do business in presenting expanded news and advertising over phone lines.
 The landmark ruling by the Florida Public Service Commission grants the Post permission to market information via "511," similar to the familiar "411" and "911" services phone companies have used for years.
 The ruling requires Southern Bell to provide the newspaper with the same billing system it uses for its 411 information service, thereby providing the newspaper with an economic underpinning for telephone information which has been lacking in most experiments to date.
 "This is the breakthrough we've been hoping for with the phone companies," said David E. Easterly, president of the newspaper division of Cox Enterprises, Inc. which owns the Post. "There's no question in my mind that the phone companies were prepared to use their 411 information infrastructure to build a host of information services. Getting our own three-digit service with the ability to bill information users will put us on a more equal footing."
 Tom Giuffrida, publisher of the Post, said services would begin within the next few months and that they will include standard offerings such as sports scores and stock quotes. "But very quickly we'll be providing highly personalized information services for Post readers," he said.
 Giuffrida said calls to "511" could order up message services in voice and fax formats.
 "Fax means callers immediately can have a printed version of the information they're seeking sent to their fax machines," said Giuffrida. "In addition, both voice and fax messages can be tailored to the specific wants and needs of individual callers."
 Giuffrida said subscribers will be given the opportunity of selecting the five or 10 informational items of most interest to them and have those items constantly updated and immediately conveyed by voice or fax when the three-digit number is called.
 He said that expanded electronic services would be promoted throughout the paper in all sections of news and advertising.
 "The future of newspapers is all about becoming the most complete directory to all kinds of information that you can imagine. The three- digit service means that we can begin that process in a big way," said Easterly.
 He said newspapers will include references to other information sources in a variety of ways. "I think many, if not most, stories will contain references to related material that will be available through a three-digit phone call. The reader will be able to get that additional information by voice or by fax in the short term. Over a little more time, the reader will be guided by the newspaper to videotext services for his PC or through screens on phones."
 The ability to direct people to more detailed information from the printed page will apply to advertising of all kinds, he said. "Small classified ads can be greatly expanded by adding electronic information to the mix," he said.
 He noted that classified and retail ads could be available on the electronic service before they are published in the newspaper and could stay in the database for extended periods.
 The Florida PSC approved the tariff in a full commission conference held Oct. 20 in Tallahassee. The measure took effect Oct. 26, but it will take several months to establish the service.
 The PSC memo recommended that The Post be granted the three-digit number because it was the first to make the request and because "Cox was the sole party investigating, negotiating and researching this area."
 The Florida PSC has filings pending for similar service to the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel and Florida Today in Melbourne, Fla.
 According to Easterly, the Palm Beach services are only the beginning for Cox.
 Cox has applied for similar services for its newspapers in the states of Georgia, Texas, Ohio, Colorado and Arizona.
 "While the Florida exercise is being described as an experiment, we'd start these services tomorrow in other markets we serve, if the regulatory agencies would just give us the chance," Easterly said.
 The Federal Communications Commission is considering other issues in connection with three-digit services. However, on May 4, the FCC general counsel notified Southern Bell that he saw no impediments to the Cox request on a "first-come, first-serve" basis.
 In addition to The Palm Beach Post, Cox Enterprises publishes 16 daily newspapers. Cox is also a leader in broadcasting, cable and automobile auctions.
 -0- 10/27/92
 /CONTACT: David Easterly of Cox Enterprises, 404-843-7901/ CO: Cox Enterprises; The Palm Beach Post; Florida Public Service
 Commission ST: Florida IN: TLS PUB SU:

BR-BN -- AT001 -- 5189 10/27/92 08:48 EST
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Date:Oct 27, 1992

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