Google may launch YouTube for Europe

Speculation is rife that Google will announce a local version of YouTube for European countries, as it gathers some of its top executives in Paris next week for an international press conference.

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Speculation is rife that Google will announce a local version of YouTube for European countries, as it gathers some of its top executives in Paris next week for an international press conference.

France 24, a French public TV channel, confirmed Friday that it has been in talks with Google, suggesting the search giant may be lining up local content for its video-sharing service. Google's YouTube events calendar pegs Tuesday - the day of the press conference - for an unspecified "Paris launch."

A Google spokeswoman in France declined to comment on the France 24 talks or speculation about local versions of YouTube.

YouTube is already popular in Europe despite having only an English language interface. Offering local language versions, along with more local TV content, could help it compete more effectively with home-grown alternatives, said Bob Ivins, managing director of comScore Europe.

France's most popular video site is DailyMotion, according to figures from comScore, although YouTube is close behind. DailyMotion, which can be viewed in several languages, had 6.6 million unique visitors in April, compared to 5.8 million for YouTube, comScore said. In Germany, YouTube topped the rankings with 7.6 million visitors, only slightly ahead of Germany's MyVideo.de.

Across Europe as a whole, YouTube has a strong lead, with 60.6 million visitors, followed by DailyMotion with 14.5 million. But the European market is fractured, with YouTube attracting only around a quarter of the total audience, comScore said.

You Tube received a boost in France this week from a video that purported to show French President Nicolas Sarkozy drunk during a news conference at the G8 Summit last week. The video has been watched more than 2 million times, although the Belgian newscaster who suggested Sarkozy was drunk has now reportedly apologised.

Cutting deals to use European TV programming would help Google avoid potential copyright infringement lawsuits, and be consistent with its strategy to partner with media providers. Google said separately this week that it is testing new tools that will try to identify copyright content and prevent it from being uploaded to its sites.

Among the attendees at next week's press day will be Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Marissa Mayer, vice president for search products and user experience, along with unnamed guests.

Peter Sayer in Paris contributed to this report.

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