Google could allow media companies to restrict the number of articles web users can read using the search engine.

The search engine has updated its First Click Free programme so users that try to view more than five article in one day are automatically navigated to webpages regarding subscriptions or registrations.

"Previously, each click from a user would be treated as free," said Josh Cohen, senior business product manager for Google News in a blog post.

"Now, we've updated the programme so that publishers can limit users to no more than five pages per day without registering or subscribing."

The move comes after chairman and chief executive of News corp Rupert Murdoch revealed he was considering preventing search engines from listing content from newspapers including The Sun and The Times in a bid to get web users to pay for content.

Murdoch told Sky News Australia earlier this month: "The people who simply just pick up everything and run with it - steal our stories, we say they steal our stories - they just take them. That's Google, that's Microsoft, that's, a whole lot of people ... they shouldn't have had it free all the time, and I think we've been asleep."

"Rupert Murdoch is trying to build a consensus that paying for content online is right and that aggregators like Google that use newspaper content but don't pay for it are doing something wrong," Broadcasting and media consultant Steve Hewlett told the BBC.

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See also: Microsoft could pay News Corp to block Google