You may be familiar with BRS Media, the small and innovative domain company that licenses the .FM and .AM extensions. I’ve written about them before – the Founder and CEO George Bundy is a smart and sharp guy. He was way out in front when he started his business, and we sometimes chuckle about the early 2000s when both he and I were already engaged with Internet radio related businesses and we thought the whole thing was about to take off. We were just a little early..
For the past year or so Bundy has been really excited about his new top level domain application with ICANN (Internet Corporation For Assigned Names and Numbers) for the .RADIO extension. He thought the prospects were looking really good and he was readying his plans for a successful launch if his application was approved. But a few months ago it was announced that the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) was also applying for the .radio extension. I don’t know much about ICANN or their application approval process, but this sounded like some serious competition.
But now a new twist has arisen – one that smells a little funny. The EBU has joined ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC).
“As a Top Level Domain Registry for 15 years and a New TLD Applicant we are extremely concerned by reports that the European Broadcasting Union has been accepted to the ICANN Governmental Advisory Committee. The EBU is an applicant for the contested string for the Industry specific term .RADIO,” remarked George T. Bundy, Chairman & CEO of BRS Media Inc. “No other GAC Members or Observers are a direct applicant for a generic Industry specific string like .RADIO that is contested. This will give the EBU an undue advantage, ‘where it carries commercial activities’ as noted in their other application, as well as, against all other contenders for the .RADIO string.”
BRS Media has suggested that the EBU withdraw its application for the .radio top level domain, since it has an unfair advantage by way of its new influence as a member of the advisory board for the organization that makes the selections. Although I’m admittedly a novice in knowing a thing about ICANN or top level domain assignments, it sure sounds like a reasonable request to me. But I’m guessing there’s only one reason that the EBU wanted on to that advisory board in the first place, and they may not be so willing to see it that way. In which case it’s important that ICANN, a private non-profit corporation, maintain its reputation by making sure its processes are fair and impartial.
This is so clearly impartial that I’m thinking someone just wasn’t thinking clearly about it all when it happened. Why would either ICANN or EBU want to appear so blatantly slanted? Bundy’s right – there’s no other way to make sure it’s a fair process than to take the EBU out of the running for .RADIO .