Minitel Makes A Bid For La Grande Pomme

In France, most homes are equipped with a Minitel terminal. Provided by the government, they link citizens with an electronic telephone directory and dozens of information services. In the U.S. though, Le Nouvel Observateur, the company sanctioned in 1988 to sell Minitel, has had a dismal time attracting American consumers. Perhaps now, a link-up with New York magazine will entice New Yorkers to log on to the French-based service.

New York Magazine On-Line is a service aimed at people already using home computers--or those willing to purchase a terminal for $30. The service costs from 10 cents to 45 cents a minute and provides New Yorkers with restaurant reviews, entertainment listings, and personal ads. While all that is available in the weekly magazine, the on-line service has unique features: Subscribers can search for, say, all moderately priced Italian restaurants on the Upper West Side. A cross-Atlantic connection into Minitel--at no extra charge--also lets them play computer games, get stock quotes from exchanges in New York, Paris, and Milan, and join in electronic chat sessions with European Minitel subscribers.