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Report: Google TV struggling to find partners

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Google is having a hard time selling its upcoming TV service to content providers worried about cannibalizing their broadcast business.

With the Google TV service set to make a fall debut, the race is on for Google to find content partners. But the company is having a tough time achieving that goal, The Wall Street Journal is reporting.

The new service, which the Web giant announced in May, will let consumers watch and search cable programming, search the Web, and view online content on a third-party device.

The Logitech Revue set-top box is one upcoming device that will feature Google TV. Logitech

The first gadgets to feature Google TV are due in the not too distant future from companies including Sony, Logitech, and Dish Network. Sony, for one, plans to offer both an Internet-ready TV and a set-top with a Blu-ray Disc drive that tap Google TV services.

Citing unnamed sources who are familiar with the matter, the Journal reported that Google has met with representatives from major television networks ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC in a bid to bring their programming to Google TV. According to the publication's sources, those companies are "skeptical that Google can provide a business model that would compensate for potentially cannibalizing TV owners' existing broadcast businesses." (Editors' note: CNET is published by CBS Interactive, a division of CBS.)

From the networks' perspective, providing content to Google could cause some viewers to opt for the Google TV option rather than watch shows live on the networks' channels where they can generate more revenue.

It's worth noting that right now, the services Google TV will be competing against, such as Apple TV, allow users to watch episodes from popular shows from the major networks. On Apple TV, for example, consumers are required to either buy an individual episode or pay for a season pass from iTunes. The major difference for the networks, the Journal reports, is that Google TV rivals won't give users access to any site on the Internet--so the networks reason that their content won't get lost in the world of Web content and pirated clips the way it might on a Google TV device.

It gets worse. According to the Journal, "some media companies are discussing whether they should take steps to block their Web video from playing on certain devices." The idea, according to the report, is to limit access to content from a Google TV-equipped device. The networks fear that if consumers can access their Web content, they would simply watch episodes online through the Google TV, rather than watch them when they air.

For now, it seems, the search giant isn't going to easily get networks to change their minds on the Google TV. And as with so many other products--Netflix Instant Streaming immediately comes to mind--the company will need to attract users first before it can attract the best content. It hopes to do that starting this fall when Google TV will start making its debut on a few products, including the Logitech Revue set-top box.