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Report: Microsoft may help News Corp. delist sites

The media empire is talking with the tech giant about having its Web sites removed from Google search results, according to a Financial Times report.

Maybe Rupert Murdoch was serious about wanting to go without Google.

Murdoch's News Corp. has initiated discussions with Microsoft over a plan to have the media company's Web content essentially delisted from the world's largest search engine, according to a report Sunday in the Financial Times that cited a person familiar with the situation. Microsoft, which owns rival search engine Bing, has also reportedly approached other media giants about having their content removed from Google search results as well.

Microsoft representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The two companies have been linked discussing a Web-search partnership in the past. During Microsoft's failed bid for Yahoo in 2008, the tech giant was reportedly in "serious" talks with News Corp. to make a joint bid for Yahoo.

Murdoch, the chairman of a newspaper, TV, and Internet empire that includes The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post, 20th Century Fox, Fox News, and Hulu, warned earlier this month that his sites may soon disappear from the search engine's listings. Murdoch accused search giants of "stealing" his company's content during a recent interview with Sky News Australia. When he was asked why he just doesn't pull his Web sites from Google's search results, he said: "I think we will. But that's when we start charging."

Murdoch and other News Corp. execs have said that they intend to charge readers and viewers for access to the company's content, forsaking the ad revenue model.

For several months, executives at some of the nation's most influential news sources, including The Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press, have been blaming Google and similar Web services for at least some of their deepening financial troubles.

Google sells ads tied to the news blurbs it "scrapes" from news sites. It links back to the Web sites from which it acquired the content but doesn't share ad revenue with them.

"Publishers put their content on the Web because they want it to be found," Google said in a statement earlier this month. "Very few choose not to include their material in Google News and Web search. But if they tell us not to include it, we don't."

Critics of the media companies' bashing Google point out that if media companies were serious about not being indexed by search engines, they could accomplish the feat on their own by adding a robots.txt file to the root of their Web site containing a simple code that would prevent bots from indexing their pages.