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story.lead_photo.caption FILE - This Tuesday, July 19, 2016, file photo shows the Google logo at the company's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. Federal and state regulators in the U.S. are preparing to file antitrust lawsuits alleging Google has abused its dominance of online search and advertising to stifle competition and and boost its profits, according to a report published Friday, May 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

LONDON -- Google says it will start paying some publishers for their news content, in a move that could pave the way for reduced tensions between the internet search giant and the beleaguered news industry.

The company said Thursday that it plans to debut this year a licensing program to pay publishers for "high-quality content."

The program will start with local and national publications in Germany, Australia and Brazil, "with more to come soon," Brad Bender, vice president of product management, said in a blog post.

Google didn't disclose the financial terms or when the new service will start.

"This program will help participating publishers monetize their content through an enhanced storytelling experience," Bender said, describing it as a "significant step forward" in how the company will support high-quality journalism.

The program's articles will be available on Google's News and Discover services. Google also will pay for users to read articles behind pay walls.

The tech giant has been fighting the news industry's demands for compensation for years, in a battle that has taken on more urgency as the coronavirus pandemic caused advertising revenue at publishers to collapse.

The first news companies to strike deals with Google include Germany's Der Spiegel, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Die Zeit, the Tagesspiegel and the Rheinische Post; Australia's Schwartz Media, The Conversation, Private Media and Solstice Media, and Brazil's Diarios Associados.

In April, France's competition regulator ordered Google to pay publishers for using snippets of their content, while Australia unveiled plans to make the company pay fair compensation for journalistic content siphoned from news media.

Facebook Inc., Google's chief rival in digital ads, also has taken steps to respond to criticism from publishers. The company said in October it would start paying publishers appearing in a News section on the social network. Facebook and Google are the focus of U.S. regulatory probes over competition and market power.

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