LISBON (Reuters) - Portuguese media companies, struggling through the worst recession since the 1970s, are pressing Google to pay for content on its news search engine, echoing similar demands elsewhere in Europe.
Alberico Fernandes, head of the Portuguese Confederation of Social Communication Media, told Reuters that the global Internet services group's Iberian and Portuguese units rejected the demand at a first meeting last week but agreed to continue negotiations.
He said Google "showed readiness to collaborate with media groups to help us modernize and make our content more profitable", something it had agreed to do in France earlier.
Publishers want payment for links to articles and the use of lead paragraphs in Google News.
Publishers in bailed out Portugal have been hit hard by a drop in advertising and sales and many media outlets have shut down.
"Our position is that the content has to be paid for ... We showed that our focus is to be paid for Google News using our news," he said, adding that the two sides planned to continue regular meetings.
A Google spokeswoman said the company "does not comment on private meetings held by its teams".
Last month, the French government and Google agreed a deal for Google to pay 60 million euros into a special fund to help French media develop their presence on the Internet, but will not pay them for posting links to their content.
Google settled a similar case with Belgian publishers in December by helping them boost online revenue, but still faces a dispute with publishers in Germany.
Last month, Francisco Pinto Balsemao, head of Portuguese media group Impresa and chairman of the European Publishers Council, told Reuters Internet search engines have grabbed 90 percent of all paid advertising on the Internet.
He said content produced by media accounted for a large part of the revenue and urged to "put and end to that robbery".
(Reporting By Filipe Alves, writing by Andrei Khalip; Editing by David Cowell)