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Atlanta Paper Starts Dial-In Info Service : Media: For 50 cents a call, the experiment offers sports scores, stock prices, horoscopes and weather forecasts.

September 08, 1993|From Bloomberg Business News

ATLANTA — The newspaper industry's biggest-ever experiment in selling information through a three-digit telephone number generated hundreds of calls and encountered few glitches, officials said.

The service, provided by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper, began Sunday and offers sports scores, stock prices, horoscopes and weather forecasts by dialing 511. Other information, such as crossword puzzles and comics, soon will be available by fax.

"There were floods of requests for sports scores, horoscopes, fishing outlooks and football recruiting information," said David Scott, head of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Electronic Information Service. "We received more calls than we had expected, and we believe things will pick up during the week now that the stock market is open."

The Los Angeles Times offers a similar service called TimesLink, free of charge in Orange County. TimesLink uses a standard seven-digit phone number.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, owned by Cox Enterprises, was awarded the 511 number by the Georgia Public Service Commission in May as part of a one-year test.

In March, Cox's Palm Beach (Florida) Post started the newspaper industry's first three-digit telephone information service, charging local callers 35 cents for a call that can last up to five minutes.

Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises is a privately held media conglomerate that owns five network-affiliated television stations, eight FM and five AM radio stations, and is the fifth-largest cable TV system operator in the nation.

Cox has applied for three-digit phone numbers in Georgia, Texas, Ohio, Colorado and Arizona.

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