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Google Looks to Make Peace with Murdoch

A sign is displayed outside of the Google headquarters in Mountain View, California.
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A sign is displayed outside of the Google headquarters in Mountain View, California.

Eric Schmidt, chief executive of Google, said the internet company had had talks with Rupert Murdoch and other newspaper proprietors about helping run subscription services for their online sites.

The talks may indicate a thawing of hostilities between Google and newspapers – particularly Mr Murdoch’s News Corp titles.

Mr Murdoch has repeatedly criticised Google for undermining newspapers by allowing internet users too much access to their valuable news content. Last November, he threatened to sue Google for including headlines from News International, which publishes of his UK titles, in its search results.

The Times and Sunday Times UK titles are next month set to introduce a paywall limiting access to their online news sites to paying customers. The papers will also withdraw their articles from Google’s search engine.

However, it seems that Google could still have a role with news sites – perhaps getting them to use the Google Checkout service to help subscribers pay for content.

Mr Schmidt said he had a good relationship with Mr Murdoch, “outside of public posturing.”

“We have talked to Rupert and quite a few others. I think we currently have peace. We have talked to News Corp and other companies for a months on these sorts of things,” Mr Schmidt told journalists on Tuesday at Google’s Zeitgeist conference outside London.

“I would rather not talk about specific news on any deal. But we are a platform, not a competitor to newspapers. Today we have an advertising answer for them, but we would like to have other answers for them as well.”

Mr Schmidt said he believed online news sites would have a combination of revenue models, including advertising, subscriptions and micropayments.

Google’s proposals for using Checkout have met with a wary response from media groups, however, with some arguing that it had more to gain than the newspapers from such an arrangement.

Ebay’s PayPal, Checkout’s much larger rival, has also been angling for a role in subscription payments.

Mr Schmidt was keen to stress that Google was not interested in competing with newspapers for content.

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