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Microsoft, News Corp. Explore Search Deal

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November 26 – December 3, 2009 Edition Microsoft, News Corp Explore Search Deal

NEW YORK, NY (AUTHORLINK NEWS, November 23,2009)–News Corp. (which also owns HarperCollins Publishers ) and Microsoft Corp. are in early discussions about a partnership that could see News Corp. removing its newspaper content from Google Inc.’s search engine while continuing to feature it on Microsoft’s online properties, according to The Wall Street Journal (also owned by News Corp.)

Still to be worked out is how Microsoft would compensate News Corp. to feature its news content, and it is unclear whether any such deal would include News Corp.’s non-newspaper sites, such as its popular MySpace social-network or Fox television properties. Microsoft’s efforts to become a bigger player in the search market and its deep financial resources have made it a potentially appealing alternative to Google for publishers looking for ways to charge for content.

While a deal with Microsoft would be another way for News Corp to get paid for its newspaper content, the company would risk losing a huge audience if its stories weren’t available to Google users, The Financial Times reported Sunday.

News Corp is among several major content organizations that have criticized Google and other big Web sites for using excerpts of their stories to link to the news organizations’ sites.  Google says it is within its legal rights to post snippets of news stories, which point traffic to news sites. News Corp. and other news outlets want major Web sites to pay directly to use their content.

Microsoft is battling against Google to better its position in the lucrative search market, and has steadily gained small amounts of market share since its launched a new version of its search engine, called Bing, earlier this year. Microsoft accounted for 9.9% of the U.S. search market in October, while Google had 65.4%, according to comScore. By featuring more news content, Microsoft could enhance its market position. Similar talks have been helpd with several publishers in addition to News Corp.

News Corp. could potentially “delist” its stories from Google’s massive search index through special commends in its web pages, which means they would not appear in any Google search results.

The discussions are another sign of a growing push by news organizations to seek new revenue streams for their online news and information in response to the challenges posed by the Internet.