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Dot-Radio: Where Are We Now?

Bundy of BRS offers perspective on ICANN and the dot-radio TLD process

George Bundy

Last year, Radio World profiled the four companies in contention to manage the new top level domain “dot-radio” (.RADIO). They are the European Broadcasting Union, Tin Dale LLC/Donuts Inc., Afilias Ltd. and BRS Media Inc.

Here’s some catch-up.

Earlier this month, BRS passed ICANN’s initial evaluation phase, something CEO George Bundy says most companies can expect will happen, given how thoroughly the applications are prepared, and how much money is invested in the process (overall, according to Bundy, hovering at just under $1 million, both in application fee and to make sure your application is failsafe).

“If you’re putting in that amount of interest in an application, you’ve mostly done your work right,” he said.

Radio World caught up with Bundy to tap into his perspective on ICANN, the Internet Committee for Assigned Names and Numbers, which recently this month held the second of three public meetings scheduled for 2013, in Durban, South Africa.

Bundy’s experience is by no means universal, but it does shed some light on what many of the applicants are experiencing, as the massive undertaking continues at its slow, thorough pace (an interesting contrast to how fast and wildly the Internet itself is evolving).

“At this point in time, we got over the evaluation process, which of course was a huge thing,” Bundy told Radio World. Of more than 1,900 total applicants for more than 1,200 top level domains, Bundy added, “Ninety percent of the applicants have passed, because they put that much effort and money into the application.”

Because of “safeguard issues with regards to extensions which are sensitive or could be controversial,” he said, “the process isn’t really going to go forward.”

What is bogging this down? An example is a rift between American companies Amazon and Patagonia and Latin American countries (where the Amazon River and the Patagonia are located) over who should own those domain names.

“Governments want to have a say in that process,” Bundy said. Which brings us to the next hurdle.

How great a role the Governmental Advisory Committee should have in this process — particularly given that “dot-radio” contender EBU is a member — is something that Bundy has been vocal about in the past. Bundy says he believes the GAC issue will get traction at the next ICANN meeting, to be held in November in Buenos Aires.

If ICANN does not eventually pick a single candidate to manage dot-radio, the TLD will go up for auction, Bundy said. But we’re not there yet. What is certain is that whomever winds up managing dot-radio will have an integral role in helping to shape what the definition of “What is Radio” going forward.

“What does radio mean, and its usage both on air and online — how might that change, and how might having an extension like dot-radio make a change to the term overall?” Bundy asks. In general, it’s hard to tell what TLDs will wind up being the most important. Right now the dot-app TLD is a popular one — but who’s to say how people 20 years from now will think about apps, Bundy says.

“Even in the mid-’80s when the original domains were bought up and developed, the perception was that the country codes in each region would be the most populous (TLDs),” he said. “It’s unclear who’s going to be the winners and losers. That’s what’s interesting with the market. I think a term like radio transcends the changes in technology.”

BRS already manages dot-FM and dot-AM and is also handling a dot-radio Twitter handle, @dotRadio.

“I can’t say this thing is going to come to the market for the next year or year and a half,” Bundy said. “The goal post continues to move.”