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Google settles French media dispute

Google will help French news organisations increase their online advertising revenue and also set up a 60 million euro (52 million) fund to finance digital publishing innovation, settling a dispute over whether the internet giant should pay to display news content in its search results.

The agreement, announced by the French government and Google, will give the news organisations access to advertising platforms on the internet search leader.

European publishers losing money and readers had asked governments in France, Germany and Italy to make Google pay. The company threatened to stop indexing European news sites, if it was charged for the content.

The company said that the settlement means it does not have to pay for "snippets" of news content that appear on a Google search page. France had appointed a mediator to lead negotiations with French publishers and they called the agreement a "happy conclusion".

Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt was present at the Elysee Palace with President Francois Hollande to sign the deal after what the president's office said were "intense negotiations".

"Our search engine generates billions of clicks each month, and our advertising solutions - in which we have invested billions of dollars - help them make money from that traffic," Mr Schmidt said of the deal on the Google Blog.

The commercial agreement will allow media organisations to profit from Google advertising platforms, including AdSense and AdMob for mobile phones.

Google sends some six billion clicks per month to publishers around the world representing a big money-making potential by selling advertising next to it and drawing in new readers. Clicking on the ads generates revenue that would be shared. It was not immediately clear how the revenue would be split, but most was expected to go to the French publishers.

Meanwhile, Google's stock climbed to a new high as Wall Street's best known indexes also approached record territory. The shares of the internet search leader peaked at 775.32 dollars in afternoon trading, eclipsing the stock's previous record of 774.38 dollars reached in early October. The company, which is based in Mountain View, California, went public at 85 dollars in August 2004.

Google's stock has been on the upswing since the company reported its fourth-quarter earnings 10 days ago. The results showed Google is still enjoying strong growth in internet advertising.

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