Shoppers to Get TV News, Ads at Checkout Lanes : Marketing: Turner Broadcasting System and ACT Media will beam the programming into supermarket chains in 10 to 12 metropolitan areas across the nation.


Shoppers waiting in the checkout lanes of up to 5,000 supermarkets will get a dose of television news and commercials in a nationwide program scheduled to be unveiled today by Turner Broadcasting System and ACT Media.

The companies have teamed up to provide the programming and hardware--including satellite links and television monitors--to five of the nation’s 10 largest supermarket chains in the initial phase of the program, according to an executive familiar with the plan. The executive declined to name the supermarket chains that have agreed to participate but said the program will debut in 10 to 12 metropolitan areas.

Turner’s Cable News Network will feed excerpts from its Headline News service to the network of participating supermarkets while ACT will supply the hardware and sell commercial time. ACT already sells advertising space and point-of-purchase promotional displays in supermarkets.

The companies would not comment on the program until a press conference in New York this morning.


Using television is nothing new in retailing. Some supermarkets use in-store television monitors to promote products or run general supermarket advertising. In others, videotaped messages provide shoppers with cooking hints and other consumer information. In some systems, TV monitors turn on when a shopping cart rolls down a specific aisle.

“There are an awful lot of things that are being tried in supermarkets,” said Miles J. Turpin, chairman of the Western division for Grey Advertising, which creates ads for Lucky Stores. “The companies want to sell more stuff, and the supermarkets want to use it as a profit center. They sure won’t let you do that for nothing.”

But the ads in the Turner-ACT system will not necessarily be related to grocery products, said the executive familiar with the plan, and may include such items as automobiles and other goods normally advertised on television.

The television monitors at checkout stands will be designed to direct sound away from harried clerks and toward shoppers in line, the executive said. Previous attempts to start such programs have been hampered by concerns about the effect of continual television noise on employees.

Early this year, ACT Media executives approached all three broadcast networks with the idea of showing their news programs in supermarkets. But concerns about the technology and possible effects on supermarket employees contributed to a decision by all three not to participate.

The networks, however, are eager to “market” their program schedules, and last fall CBS and NBC promoted their new shows in Sears and K mart stores. The campaigns were considered successful by the networks.

The Turner-ACT program is only the latest attempt to introduce a specialized package of news and commercials to a “captive audience.” Whittle Communications recently launched Channel One, an advertiser-supported news program geared to young people and beamed into school classrooms nationwide.