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Murdoch puffs Microsoft over Google

Redmond aligns with the empire of The Sun

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Rupert Murdoch is in talks with Microsoft over his plans to delist his newspaper websites from Google.

Of course, if he was serious about this, he could get his techies to add a robots.txt file to all News Corp sites and effectively disappear from Google immediately.

But he needs to keep an audience or he'll lose advertising revenue as well. According to the FT, Microsoft is talking to other publishers to get them to remove themselves from Google too.

This could suggest that Microsoft is prepared to pay people to provide content for Bing. This would, hopefully, build Bing's market share and hit Google's revenues too, although the search engine has long claimed its news site brings in very little revenue.

Murdoch's executives have been searching fruitlessly for a new online revenue model since the Aussie billionaire shared his dream of a subscription-internet in August, while revealing a $203m loss for the year.

By November he admitted the company was unlikely to meet the June deadline.

The firm already charges for much of the Wall Street Journal, but charging for generic news and stuff like The Sun will prove tougher.

So could Murdoch's failing internet publishing business be the perfect match for Microsoft's failing search engine? Microsoft has chucked an awful lot of money at trying to make it fly, throwing a bit more at Murdoch for some exclusive content might seem like a cheapish way to grab some market share.

And its going to wind up Google of course, which both sides are keen to do.

But if Murdoch thinks Google is playing hardball with his precious content, we'd love to see him haggling with Steve Ballmer. ®

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