By  on May 4, 1994

NEW YORK -- Newsday and New York Newsday have agreed to begin a joint venture with Nynex to offer interactive electronic services, according to Nynex and the Times Mirror Corp., publisher of the newspapers. It will be launched in mid-1995.

The Nynex-Newsday shopping service will center on the database of the Nynex business directory listings and the advertising listings of Newsday and New York Newsday. Nynex said there are 1.7 million business directory listings in its region, from department stores to restaurants.

Consumers will be able to "shop" the database over the telephone with the help of a personal shopping assistant. For example, a customer could ask for the name of a shoe store on the Upper West Side and the personal shopping assistant would be able to find the appropriate store.

The name, telephone number and address as currently listed in the directory would be part of the database, a Nynex spokesman said. If a business wanted to talk about a sale that was going on, it could add that to the service for an additional fee.

Editorial content will be provided by Newsday and New York Newsday.

"We want to marry businesses and services with editorial content where possible," the spokesman said. "You might elect to have a current restaurant review faxed to you at the time you place the call."

The service will first be offered to the downstate New York region. Initially, it will be available over the Nynex telephone networks, but the company also wants it to evolve into a number of different forms, including interactive television.

The Nynex spokesman said there will be a charge for using the service, but it will be nominal.

"The idea is to keep the charge at a level that will encourage usage," he said.

This is not Nynex's first foray into interactive shopping. The company is working on a test of video-on-demand services with Liberty Cable that might include a Bergdorf Goodman home shopping service later this year.

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