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Media Companies Attempt to Master New Domains

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has announced 1,930 applicants for new top-level domain names (the ones after the dot, as in .com, .net or .org), and media companies were well-represented, either planning to use the extensions or defending them from others.

ABC, CBS and Fox all applied for those extensions, but nobody applied for NBC. CBS also applied for "Showtime," while HBO wants "HBO." BBC, Bloomberg and CBN (Christian Broadcasting Network) all applied for their monikers.

NBC had no comment, but it already has its dotcom stable--NBC, NBCuniversal, Bravo, etc.--locked up, and there are mechanisms in place to block name poachers through a trademark blocking list and arbitration mechanisms.

Comcast applied for "Xfinity," while Dish applied for both "Dish" and "direct," as well as "blockbuster," "data," 'dot," "DTV," "Latino," "locker," "mobile," "OLLO," "OTT," and "phone." Dish has competition for" movie," including from the Motion Picture Domain Registry, and for Direct, but from Half Trail LLC, not DirecTV, or at least not directly.

The Weather Channel applied for both "weatherchannel" and "weather."

A 60-day public comment period has begun and ICANN evaluation panels will vet those comments. There will also be seven months to file a formal objection, so the domain names won't be cropping up anytime soon.

Lifestyle Domain Holdings applied for "HGTV," "foodnetwork" and "travelchannel," presumably representing Scripps, which owns all those channels. Similarly, Charleston Road Registry filed for "YouTube," "Google" and "Goog," among others.

There were four applications for "video."

The raft of new names came despite major pushback from advertisers, the Federal Trade Commission and Capitol Hill, all over concerns that a "rapid and exponential" expansion of top-level domain names -- from the current 22 to more than a thousand -- "could leave consumers more vulnerable to fraud and undermine law enforcement efforts to track down scammers."

The FTC for example, wanted ICANN to scale back the number of new names or start with a pilot program.