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News Corp is in negotiations to buy Blinkx, a privately held internet search company based in San Francisco, according to people close to the world's fourth-largest media group.

The prospective acquisition is part of an attempt by News Corp to take on such internet powerhouses as Yahoo. News Corp is trying to build a rival portal by acquiring fast-growing web businesses and by leveraging the sites of its in-house brands, including those of local Fox TV stations, the Fox TV network and cable channels such as Fox Sports and Fox News.

During News Corp's earnings announcement last week, Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive, said the company was prepared to spend as much as $2bn on internet acquisitions. He acknowledged that the company was in advanced negotiations to acquire a search engine, but did not disclose its name.

Some News Corp sources said the talks were not quite as advanced as Mr Murdoch suggested and could still break down. Mr Murdoch predicted that News Corp's internet business would account for “a major part of the company's growth, profits and asset building over the next several years”. In the past month, Mr Murdoch has agreed to spend more than $700m on internet acquisitions.

Blinkx could give News Corp an edge in what could be the next big sensation on the web: search engines for finding movies, TV episodes and news clips.

This article appears by special arrangement with the LA Times.

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