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MOBILE FAIR-Spain open to ISPs charging search engines

BARCELONA, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Spain's government said on Monday it would be open to the possibility of internet service providers such as Telefonica TEF.MC charging search engines like Google GOOG.O a fee.

“It’s an option which we should discuss and which we should consider as a possible option,” Industry Minister Miguel Sebastian told reporters at the Mobile World Congress industry fair in Barcelona when asked about comments made by Telefonica Chairman Cesar Alierta.

Alierta said last week that Spain’s dominant operator was considering charging search engines but did not say how the firm could charge Google or Yahoo or why it wanted to target search engines and not other webpages.

“It’s clear that internet search engines use our networks without paying us anything,” he said in a video on the webpage of Basque television company ETB. “That is going to change, of that I’m convinced.”

Telefonica had discussed the proposal to charge with other European operators during a private meeting in Seville at the end of last year, a source at the Spanish firm said.

“All the operators want search engines like Google or Yahoo to pay to use its networks,” he said.

In January French President Nicolas Sarkozy said he wanted to explore whether the online advertising revenues of major search engines could be taxed in France as well as their home countries.

He also said he wanted the country’s antitrust body to rule on whether Google enjoyed a dominant market position in online advertising.

Deloitte said in a report last week that ISP providers would push increasingly for content providers to contribute to the cost of network rollout. (Reporting by Robert Hetz, Writing by Sarah Morris in Madrid; Editing by Greg Mahlich)