Times Mirror OKs deal to provide stories to Prodigy

August 05, 1993|By Suzanne Wooton | Suzanne Wooton,Staff Writer Bloomberg Business News contributed to this article.

The Times Mirror Co. has teamed up with Prodigy Services Co. to provide stories from three of its largest newspapers over the Prodigy on-line computer network beginning early next year.

The agreement, linking the Prodigy network with a newspaper chain with nearly 3 million daily subscribers, initially calls for making issues and other information available from the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and New York Newsday in the Southern California and New York regions.

Under the letter-of-intent announced yesterday, the three Times Mirror newspapers would provide local services, including current newspaper articles, data bases of previously published material, expanded analyses and background information on news stories, restaurant reviews and directories of community and educational services.

Los Angeles-based Times Mirror said its other newspapers -- including The Baltimore Sun, the Hartford Courant, the (Allentown) Morning Call, the (Stamford) Advocate and Greenwich Time -- would eventually be offered through Prodigy.

"People want more local news from their newspapers, and with this you can provide much more detailed information," said Martha H. Goldstein, a Times Mirror spokeswoman.

The agreement between Times Mirror and Prodigy, which had about 2 million subscribers earlier this year, continued a trend that began in Chicago and San Francisco.

Several prominent publishing companies have already joined the electronic bandwagon in preparation for the growth in electronic services, including Time-Warner Inc., the Tribune Co. and Knight-Ridder Inc. through America OnLine Inc. Recently, Prodigy and Cox Enterprises reached a similar agreement under which local news services would be offered in Georgia and Florida.

Working with on-line services opens new markets for the newspaper publishing industry, which has seen its readership decline as television and radio have become a more prominent source of news, said Josh Harris, president of Jupiter Communications, a market research firm based in New York.

Prodigy, a partnership of International Business Machines Corp. and Sears, Roebuck and Co., is an on-line information service that is used largely through home computers. Customers can obtain news, weather, sports and financial information and consumer reports.

Times Mirror and Prodigy said they would also consider involving Times Mirror's other companies, including magazines, professional information and cable systems, in electronic information services.

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