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Google, China to Solve Dispute Soon: Google CEO

Google and China will resolve their differences over censorship and an alleged attack on Google's service "soon", Eric Schmidt, the Chief Executive of Google, told reporters in Abu Dhabi where he takes part in the emirate's first ever Media Summit.

Schmidt did not give details of the nature of the talks or an exact timetable.

The Google CEO, together with other media executives, are in Abu Dhabi to discuss about innovation, how will technology companies reshape the way content is consumed, what kind of content will run on what platforms and on what devices in the fast-changing technological landscape.

But alongside this runs the slightly more thorny issue for Google and all media companies: how do they get money out of fast growing regions of the world where most media outlets are subject to censorship or some form of protective government involvement.

Schmidt told the audience that his ambition, and that of Google, was for information and the internet to be freely available to anyone who wanted it. How does that square with repressive governments' desires to restrict access he was asked?

The Google boss admitted that for now, the "tanks trump the internet." I don't think he was thinking of Tiananmen square when the words left his lips, but the images readily come to mind.

Censorship in Focus

The Abu Dhabi summit was meant to be about the structural shifts in content creation, mobility and competing platforms. I.e., the future. In the event, the headlines were snatched by two very old world issues: censorship and protectionism.

Rupert Murdoch opened the summit by calling for more transparency on both.

Credit must go to the host Abu Dhabi for signaling its desire to change. The Kingdom has a chequered track record, which is readily acknowledged in the corridors of the summit away from the cameras. It's ironic that two of the invited key speakers here, Rupert Murdoch and Skype's Josh Silverman, have experience in this area.

Murdoch's newspapers were removed from newsstands in Abu Dhabi last November after they reported on the debt crisis in neighboring Dubai by showing the leader of the Emirate sinking in a sea of debt.

And it is not possible to log on to Skype in the hotel where the summit is taking place; when you try a red circle with a white bar across it appears and the message box advises that the site falls under 'the prohibited content category'.

This summit was a first for the Middle East in trying to draw foreign investors into a rapidly growing market, as Europe and Asia tread water.

What shone through was that real innovation in content and growth in media can only happen in open markets.

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