Pulling the Morning News and other newspapers published by owner A.H. Belo Corp. out of Google's search index is among the options that are being considered if the publications decide to impose fees to read their stories online, Moroney said. The company isn't close to making a decision ¿ and Microsoft hasn't offered any money as an inducement, Moroney said.

Tom Curley, the AP's chief executive, has publicly suggested the not-for-profit news cooperative might favor one search engine over another as it negotiates new licensing agreements with Google, Microsoft and Yahoo Inc. The AP declined a request to interview Curley or another executive for this story.

Google maintains that its search engine has been a boon for publishers because it drives millions of visitors to their Web sites each month.

"Each of those visits offers a business opportunity for the publishers to show ads, win loyal readers and sell subscriptions," said Google spokesman Gabriel Stricker.

News Corp. declined to comment for this story. However, the company, run by Google critic Rupert Murdoch, has an added incentive to cozy up to Microsoft now. News Corp. is getting at least $900 million from Google over three years in exchange for letting Google sell ads on MySpace and other News Corp.-owned sites. Google has expressed disappointment with how the MySpace deal panned out, so News Corp. may need to keep Microsoft in the picture to improve its negotiating leverage.

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