MIAMI -- Media conglomerate Knight-Ridder Inc. has agreed to acquire 6% of US Order, Herdon, Va., which makes a computerized telephone for home banking, shopping, and information services.

Though small, US Order is a pioneer in the emerging screen telephone market, which some bankers hope eventually will explode and boost the sluggish home banking market.

US Order is controlled by the airline firm WorldCorp., also of Herndon. But US Order expects to raise $12 million of capital from new investors "within the next few weeks," the company said in a prepared statement.

Knight-Ridder has agreed to buy the 6% stake only if other parties agree to invest $6 million in US Order.

If the deal is consummated, it will help Knight-Ridder learn more about "the emerging interactive and consumer information services industry," said Jerome S. Tilis, vice president of marketing.

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