Microsoft deal would pay for Murdoch’s news
News Corp threatens to cut out Google and do a deal with Bing search engine instead
Has Rupert Murdoch finally found a way to get the internet to value his news content - and save the newspaper industry? It's possible, though negotiations still have a long way to go.
Pushing ahead with plans that could ultimately force Google to contribute to the costs of producing the news content found on its pages, Murdoch's News Corp is looking to remove, or de-index, its proprietory news and content from Google and offer it through an exclusive alliance with Microsoft's rival Bing search engine.
According to the Financial Times, Microsoft has also approached other big online publishers to persuade them to remove their sites from Google.
Microsoft is said to be willing to pay news organisations to index with Bing, a potential revolution in the hitherto inconsistent and confused approach with which general news gatherers have approached web distribution - a strategy known as no strategy whatsoever.
But with Microsoft's resurgent operating and search engine business behind him, Murdoch's plan to prevent Google "stealing stories" across his papers could be taking shape.
But like the music business - which effectively lost control of its own pricing and distribution to Apple's iTunes service - there is concern that ceding control to Microsoft could prove a Faustian bargain. Still, beggars can't be choosers and any News Corp/Microsoft alliance will signal how rapidly the information-wants-to-be-free era is drawing to a close.
Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer has signalled he's prepared to spend heavily to compete with Google. If that now means spending on news, Microsoft could emerge as the saviour of the newspaper business in the same way that Apple offered a (limited) lifeline to the technology-devastated music business.
Google claims to be unfazed by the prospect of an anti-Google news alliance: "Economically, it [news] is not a big part of how we generate revenue," Matt Brittin, Google's UK director, told a Society of Editors meeting recently. A source familiar with the News Corp/Microsoft deal warned talks are still at an early stage. ·
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