Google allows publishers to limit free online content

Search engine bows to pressure from media companies
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Search engine bows to pressure from media companies

Google will allow news publishers to limit the number of stories users can access free via the search engine, after some media companies have decided to start charging for content.

The search giant said it will adapt its ‘First Click Free’ program to prompt users to subscribe to a publisher’s site after reading five free articles from one company in a day.

Previously, readers’ first click of any article was free, but Google seems to be changing its system in reaction to companies such as News Corporation, who have reportedly threatened to remove their content from the search engine and move to rival Bing.

Google senior business product manager Josh Xohen wrote on the official Google News blog: "As newspapers consider charging for access to their online content, some publishers have asked: should we put up pay walls or keep our articles in Google news and Google search? In fact they can do both – the two aren't mutually exclusive."

Rupert Murdoch-owned News Corp already limits web access to the Wall Street Journal to paying subscribers, with similar plans in the pipeline for The Times and Sunday Times.

Last month, Microsoft reportedly offered to pay News Corp to remove its news sites from Google, in an attempt to loosen the internet giant’s grip on the search engine market.