The Wall Street Journal, stealing a march on its new competitors such as The Guardian and the US version of The London Times, is taking a dramatic step – launching its own television network. But not on home tv sets. Instead it is setting up screens in a select group of office buildings around the United States.
Starting in New York, it is putting up high-definition LCD screens, the best there are, in and around six buildings in the New York area. Later the network will expand to Chicago, Washington and Los Angeles. Altogether at least 40 buildings will have the Wall Street Journal TV screens by next year. The sets, like regular TV, will carry news (in the distinctive WSJ style typeface) plus weather and market prices. Plus of course adverts. The screens will be located, a spokesman said, in lobbies, elevator banks and other high traffic areas. Ultimately the Wall Street Journal screens will be seen, it is hoped, by at least 100,000 viewers a day. Actually the WSJ screens are not the latest advance in outdoor (or indoor) advertising. For years there have been ads on the sides of New York City buses. Even taxicab roofs. Now there is a move in Colorado to put ads on police cars. But what’s next? How about ads on postage stamps? The US Postal Service is seriously considering amending its regulations to allow businesses to put their ads or slogans on postage stamps – hitherto out-of-bounds territory. It is of course an effort to offset the slide in the sale of stamps as a result of most people now sending e-mail instead of letters. Hewlett-Packard, the big computer company, is one of the first to sign up to have its image imprinted on postage stamps. The only people likely to complain its suspected are serious philatelists. And of course newspaper and magazine ad directors who see their business income going to so many unexpected new places these days