Domain registration rights for dot-RADIO still in controversy

brs media logoIn a bureaucratic and technical process that has been proceeding for over two years, BRS media, an applicant for the right to administer the upcoming dot-RADIO domain, has filed a review process with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the body which distributes administration rights.

BRS Media owns the administration of dot-FM and dot-AM domains. Adding dot-RADIO (e.g. would be a valuable and relevant addition to the company’s administrative portfolio. Gatekeeping a top-level domain can be good business, as prices for ownership are higher than for traditional dot-COM and dot-NET domains, if there is demand for the TLD.

ICANN has chosen one applicant, the European Broadcast Union (EBU), as administrator that would receive domain ownership requests for dot-RADIO URLs, decide who gets one, and transact ownership. The review process filed by BRS Media conforms with ICANN bylaws regarding the assignment process. BRS’ objection is that the group which made that decision (called the Community Priority Evaluation panel) incorrectly applied ICANN rules. A public press release details the BRS objections.

But the BRS case goes back further than this action. George Bundy, founder and owners of BRS Media, has been protesting ICANN’s entire handling of the dot-RADIO administration process. Two years ago, Bundy protested the EBU’s application, citing conflict of interest. Shortly before the EBU submitted its interest in administering dot-RADIO, it joined ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee.

Besides potential conflict of interest, Bundy felt that the EBU, and another group called CORE which would handle day-to-day operations, were not qualified gatekeepers of dot-RADIO’s integrity. The domain is supposed to be available only to qualified entities whose brands and websites are actually connected to radio. “Not everyone can get dot-RADIO domain name,” George Bundy has told RAIN News. “It’s important to understand who would qualify and how those benchmarks are placed.”

How “radio” is defined in the digital/streaming era is a slippery question, and comprises one key point in BRS’ current argument. For example, the ICANN panel cites “minimum standards of streaming,” and Bundy says there is no such standard. Similarly, while the panel cites podcasting, Bundy argues that “Podcasting contrasts with Internet streaming” by definition.

BRS Media petitioned for a different review a year ago, as the bureaucratic wheels slowly turned on this tug-of-war. In March of this year, BRS Media hedged its bet, and took advantage of the protracted argument, by launching dot-RADIO sub-domains within the dot-FM top-level URLs that BRS controls. They look like this: “The Radio Global Domains under and are designed for Bootstrap Start-Ups, SOHO Streaming Entrepreneurs, Social Media Enterprises and DIY Broadcasters worldwide, while at the same time encouraging originality in expanding the RADIO global domain space,” Bundy said.

Brad Hill