The Checkout Channel, an alternative to checking out the tabloids while standing in line at the supermarket, has made its debut with a version of Cable News Network intended to catch the eyes of shoppers.
At an A&P store in Atlanta, one of 14 areas - which include Salt Lake City - where the Checkout Channel is being launched, customers reported it was a pleasant diversion."I thought it was fine, something to do while waiting in line," said Steve Lesley.
"I think it's a great distraction for him," said Sherrill Mobley, pointing to her 23-month-old son.
But cashier Anne McIntyre said she could use a break after working beneath the TV monitor for two straight hours. "It's driving me crazy," she said. "The same commercials over and over."
The venture is the latest of CNN's unconventional outlets, and more may be on the way. In addition to televisions in households, CNN can be seen in airports, jets, schools and movie theaters.
The Checkout Channel features rapid-fire news summaries and brief features transmitted via satellite to televisions mounted atop supermarket checkouts.
It is being launched in 150 stores in Akron, Ohio; Atlanta; Cleveland; Detroit; Greensboro, N.C.; Greenville, S.C.; Louisville, Ky.; New York City; upstate New York; Philadelphia; Phoenix; Providence, R.I.; Salt Lake City; and San Francisco.
Participating stores include A&P, Kroger, Finast and Acme.
For Atlanta-based Turner Broadcasting System Inc., CNN's parent, the new channel provides yet another showcase for its 24-hour news network.
"Viewing time at home is being reduced, and we have to go after the target," said Scott Weiss, executive vice president of Turner Private Networks, the TBS subsidiary that is producing the Checkout Channel.
"I think we are reacting to what we believe is an insatiable appetite in our generation for information. They want it live. They want it now, on an instant basis," Weiss said.
Though partly relying on material from CNN and CNN Headline News, the Checkout Channel is produced at a separate studio. In the event of major breaking news, the channel could shift to CNN's live coverage, Weiss said.
Weiss said the Checkout Channel has already sold more than 80 percent of its available advertising space, lining up such major advertisers as Coca-Cola, Kimberly Clark and People magazine.
He said Turner pays the stores a modest fee to house the televisions but declined to reveal details.
Turner spokeswoman Marcia Dworetz said the company is negotiating with McDonald's for a planned diners' version.