The European Broadcasting Union appears
to be front runner to secure the new generic top level domain
“dot-radio.” But some
critics feel that if ICANN awards .radio to the EBU, the
decision would recategorize the radio industry as a restricted community — and
that the use of the radio “namespace” online would become subject to regulation
by a Geneva-based entity not familiar with the industry.
George Bundy is founder of multimedia ecommerce company BRS Media. His
company operates the domain name registries .fm and .am, and hopes to secure
Q: You are part of an appeal of an
important decision in this process. Who is participating in your appeal?
Bundy: We are a party to the
Reconsideration Request (14-41) submitted to ICANN on Sept 25, 2014, as are
Afilias Limited and Tin Dale LLC (Donuts Inc.). Details are linked here.
What is the basis of the appeal?
Bundy: This process is not an “appeal” but a
reconsideration request of the Community Priority Evaluation (CPE) panel’s
evaluation. At this time ICANN does not have a CPE appeal process. The basis of
the reconsideration request is that the panel incorrectly applied the standards
set out in section 4.2.3 (Community Priority Evaluation Criteria) of the
Applicant Guidebook including:
-Community Establishment Delineation: The CPE Panel
quoted: “Internet radios are also part of the Radio community, and as such will
be acknowledged by .radio TLD, as will podcasters. In all cases certain minimum
standards on streaming or updating schedules will apply.”
There are no such “minimum
standards on streaming.” Additionally, according to Wikipedia, “Podcasting
contrasts with Internet streaming,” meaning podcasters would not meet ANY
standards on streaming.
-Enforcement: The CPE panel noted that the application satisfied by applying
“enforcement program based on random checks” and the applicant noted they “will
adapt the practices according to the experience gained.”
As ICANN itself has demonstrated with the dramatic change in WHOIS Accuracy Program enforcement, in the 2013 Registrar Accreditation
Agreement (2013 RAA), random checks with experience gained is not a specific
enforcement measure, and represents nothing more than a largely unrestricted
approach to eligibility.
-Opposition: The CPE panel noted: “Application received letters of opposition,
which were determined not to be relevant.” However, the response to ICANN by
the International Radio Emergency Support Coalition (IRESC), Economic and
Social Council to the United Nations Secretary General clearly noted valid relevant opposition from one group of
-Support: The CPE Panel noted: “The applicant possesses documented
support from institutions/organizations representing a majority of the
community addressed.” However, as a case in point, the EBU’s sister Broadcast
Unions signed identical supporting form letters:
NABA (North American Broadcasters Association) - Full
membership is only available to radio network broadcasters in North America and
NOT the thousands of local broadcast radio stations in Canada and the U.S.
ABU (Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union) -
Full Members may be only two full members in any one country, NOT the thousands
of local broadcast radio stations in the Asia-Pacific region.
ASBU (Arab States Broadcasting Union) -
Active Members includes only radio organizations appointed by Arab
member-states to act as their representative, and NOT the independent radio
broadcasters in the Arab region.
Clearly none of these EBU sister unions represent a majority of the community
addressed as radio in their respective regions.
Q: The ICANN
process is complex for outsiders to understand. Let’s cut to the chase: Why is
this process important to most people who work in the radio industry?
Bundy: Yes, ICANN and Internet
governance policies are complex to understand. However, it is in the best
interest of all industries to at the least be informed about ICANN and Internet
governance, just as radio must understand FCC governance policies.
As I noted, it’s very much like royalty rates in the ‘90s when most in
the industry had an “it does not matter to us today” mindset.
The Internet and .radio
top-level domain will be the future of the radio online. By the end of this
year, ICANN will have released over 500 new TLDs. Some will fail, others will
succeed. It would be shortsighted to just think, “I have a .com domain today,
so I don’t really care about the future of the Internet, .radio or ICANN.”
The EBU told Radio World in 2012 that it “represents the interests of the
global radio community and can be relied on to provide a secure namespace to
facilitate and speed the radio industry’s digital, online evolution.” That
sounds like an attractive pitch. How would BRS Media’s management of the domain
Claims by the EBU to “provide a secure namespace” may sound attractive until
you look at the policies, which tend to benefit some, while discriminate
against others. For example in the EBU Application Nexus “community is
delineated,” U.S.-based radio broadcasters are (2.4) Forth Class Citizens, in
the Second Category, and licensed amateur radios are near the bottom of the
list, which is why the International Radio Emergency Support Coalition filed an
objection to the EBU application as discriminatory.
This list is from the EBU (1-1083-39123)
Licensed Radio Broadcasters
Trademarks used for radio related activities for example companies providing
specific services, equipment, radio programmes, etc.
3.2 Defensive registrations by non-eligible applicants
4. Internet radio stations
5 Licensed amateur radios and
addition, under “Content⁄Use: what restrictions,” registrants are required to
state their intended use of the registered domain name. Today, most domains
have NO such requirement to explain “intended use” and to stay with that “use”
forever. As an example, some of our clients now use their domain as a Twitter
branding URL; 16 years ago that “intended use” did not exist. But according to
the EBU enforcement, “A false statement of intended use is an indication of bad
faith and can be the basis for the suspension of the domain name.” So, if you
want to use the domain as your website and make a change, is that a “false
statement of intended use”? Policies like these are nothing more than a source
of censorship and discriminatory in nature.
Our stewardship of a top-level domain speaks for
itself. We have provided an open, stable and non-discriminatory space for over
16 years. We have great clients from all aspects of the radio industry, using
TLDs any way they see fit to succeed online, all without policies that are a
source of censorship, discrimination
and restricted usage, today and in the future, no matter how the Internet and
Q: At this point, when do you think URLs ending in
“.radio” will start being available to organizations to request?
Bundy: We have been asked this question since announcing our intent to
apply for .radio back in 2009. Now over five years later, I still cannot
pinpoint a “timeframe to live.” As I noted, ICANN will have over 500 new TLD
live by the end of 2014. However, domains in contention like .music, web, .app
and .radio can still take years to get to the market.
What else should radio industry people know about this process?
Bundy: Specifically with regards
to ICANN and the Community Priority Evaluation (CPE) process: Since the EBU
prevailing with the minimum 14 points with .radio last month, other
applications have been released: The .gay Community Priority failed only
scoring 10 points, some noted the panel claimed there was no delineated gay
community. Also, the RIAA and SoundExchange-backed .music application failed
community priority, only scoring 3 points out of 16.
These inconsistent evaluations back our
claim that the Community Priority Evaluation panel incorrectly applied the
standards set out in section 4.2.3 (Community Priority Evaluation Criteria) of
the Applicant Guidebook.
-A helpful overview in RAIN
-More about the meaning of terms including “community nexus,” see a recent story on the website