As the venerable Englebert Humperdinck prepares to wow TV audiences with his UK entry to the Eurovision Song Contest, organisers of the event – set to take place in Baku, Azerbaijan on 26 May – have moved to protect their intellectual property (IP) in the web-related side of the show. With applications for new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) approaching their deadline, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) announced that it has applied to run a .eurovision suffix. If approved, the EBU will become the domain’s registrar, able to license any web operators that wish to run official sites linked to the show.
The EBU – a powerful association of European public-service broadcasters – has owned the Eurovision brand since the 1950s. It was in the middle of that decade that the contest was created, with the unlikely goal of uniting post-war Europe through the medium of light entertainment.
Since then, the contest has become steadily more elaborate, and the voting more political; although the 2006 win of Finnish Metal band Lordi with the song ‘Hard Rock Hallelujah’ and last year’s Moldovan entry ‘So Lucky’ (they weren’t: Azerbaijan won) proved that it is still capable of packing the occasional surprise amid the usual parade of kitsch. The brand also covers the EBU’s news and sports distribution network, which has become one of the world’s leading resources of audio and video content.
Perhaps more significantly, though, the EBU has also applied to administrate a .radio suffix. If that application is passed, the organisation will have control over an enviable gTLD with a truly global reach, embodying an entire communications medium.
EBU president Jean-Paul Philippot said: ‘The EBU's acquisition of this TLD will serve a greater good, bringing tangible benefits to radio broadcasters and listeners everywhere. Our application includes the firm, written support of the EBU's seven sister unions [including the Arab States Broadcasting Union (ASBU) and the North American Broadcasters Association (NABA)], representing the interests of around 50,000 radio stations with a potential reach of some 5.5 billion listeners.’
EBU director general Ingrid Deltenre added: ‘The EBU wants to ensure that the world's radio community has fair, reasonable access to a domain name that could bring unique impetus to the entire sector. The EBU would administer the .radio TLD in a neutral, reliable and not-for-profit way; it would be regrettable if it fell into hands that do not represent the entire radio community.’
The application stage for the first wave of new gTLDs is set to close on Friday 20 April – a deadline revised from Thursday 12 April after organising body the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) discovered a ‘glitch’ in the system.