Google and other search engines, including Microsoft Bing and Yahoo, will be asked by the government to push copyright-infringing websites down their search results under new plans.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has confirmed that culture secretary Jeremy Hunt will announce the plans tomorrow during a speech to the Royal Television Society. He is unlikely to mention or single out particular search engines.

Hunt will tell the search engines to take "reasonable steps" to "make life more difficult" for sites that flout copyright, including television programmes, film, music and other content, the Financial Times reported.

The government is hoping for the problem to be tackled by the search engine companies, rather than having to impose further rules. But it is understood that there could be forthcoming legislation, within the Communications Bill, if an industry-run solution is not found.

The news comes after the government abandoned plans to completely block the websites.

"We intend to take measures to make it more and more difficult to access sites that deliberately facilitate infringement, misleading consumers and depriving creators of a fair reward for their creativity," Hunt will say.

When courts decide a website breaks the law, search engines should push the site down their listings, he will argue. But the government also wants credit card companies to help by refusing to process transactions for the sites.