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TABLOIDS MAY GET COMPETITION IN CHECKOUT LINE

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A flickering TV screen soon may be competing for attention with the trashy tabloids and candy bars in the supermarket checkout line.

Cable television giant Turner Broadcasting System Inc. and ActMedia, a marketing firm specializing in promotions in stores, said they plan to design a new TV program service aimed at shoppers in the checkout line.The so-called Checkout Channel will feature news, sports and other specially tailored programming - plus advertising - on TV monitors placed above each checkout aisle.

Turner and ActMedia said they hope to have it installed in 5,000 of the nation's 30,000 supermarkets within 18 months.

Wayne W. LoCurto, chief executive and president of ActMedia, said the service should help advertisers reach a huge audience each week while making the wait in the checkout line more enjoyable for shoppers.

If the plan works, it would be the latest commercial encroachment into places that formerly were beyond the reach of television advertisers.

In recent months, media companies have either introduced or announced plans to develop commercial TV programs designed to reach teens in the classroom, women at the beauty salon and patients in the doctor's waiting room.

"There will be a few people to complain, but we believe the overwhelming majority of people will like it," LoCurto said in a telephone interview.

"It's informative, entertaining and it's going to make their wait seem to go quicker," he said.