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The Next Wave of Domain Names and the Potential of ".bbc"

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Matthew Postgate Matthew Postgate | 14:00 UK time, Wednesday, 13 June 2012

BBC R&D registered the domain name bbc.co.uk in October 1991, almost 21 years ago. It wasn’t until December 1997 that anything we would nowadays recognise as BBC Online became available from that url. It’s a core part of BBC R&D’s role within the corporation to be thinking five to ten years ahead, to be anticipating the changes in the technological landscape, and to ensure the BBC remains at the forefront of those changes.

The online landscape is set to evolve again over the next couple of years, as ICANN – the organisation that assigns and manages global top level domain names – expands the web’s suite of suffixes far beyond the traditional .com or .org. The release of domain names such as .london or .music has the potential to change the way people navigate and engage with the web.

Today ICANN reveals which brands and companies have applied for their own top level domain names. The BBC has applied for the global top level domain .bbc, and I’d like to explain our thinking behind this application.

It’s R&D’s job to consider the future impact of this increase in web addresses for online audiences. Just as we were in 1991, today we are right at the start of this process. There are three key reasons why we decided to apply for .bbc.

  • Investing in the technological future of the BBC – important for us to remain at forefront of internet engineering developments, to better serve our audiences in a changing online landscape.
  • Protecting and maintaining the BBC brand – as online landscape evolves, this is an important extension of the BBC’s brand protection policies.
  • Potentially enhancing our relationship with online audiences – in the future the use of .bbc domains might ensure content is even easier to access and navigate for our audiences, clearly identified as coming from the BBC, or more secure and scalable.

There are clear potential benefits to a .bbc domain, both for audiences’ enjoyment of our content, and in making BBC Online fit for the future. We’re not alone in this thinking: we know Google has applied for .google and .youtube, and anticipate many more big organisations will be among those revealed this afternoon.

Now that our application is public, we look forward to the next stage of this process, as ICANN evaluates the requests. We’re still a long way from seeing a .bbc domain in the wild, but it’s interesting to consider the potential of this chapter in the evolution of the internet.


  • Comment number 1.

    Makes sense
    .iplayer would be cool I reckon

  • Comment number 2.

    I think for a brand as large and as socially important as the BBC this decision should have been a no brainer. Thank goodness it wasn't wrapped up in a red tape nightmare.

  • Comment number 3.

    While I completely understand that the BBC would want to protect itself, I do not agree that this is an 'evolution' of the internet. It is a step back - and something that will pave the way for the rich to start taking control of the web.

    The web should be for everyone - not just the giants with very deep pockets.

    More here: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/eighty-seven-major-national-and-international-business-associations-and-companies-join-with-ana-forming-the-coalition-for-responsible-internet-domain-oversight-crido-to-oppose-icanns-top-level-domain-expansion-program-133610748.html

  • Comment number 4.

    will these new TLDs require a subdomain in order to work? In other words, will the URLs be something like http://sport.bbc & http://news.bbc or would the TLD on its own suffice? Being able to go to http://bbc would be quite handy

  • Comment number 5.

    Fordie - they will be top level domains, so yes, will be used with subdomains, such as http://bars.london

    It's completely ridiculous that companies should be allowed to own generic top level tlds.

  • Comment number 6.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 7.

    All very well, but is this really business critical? .bbc or bbc.co.uk who cares and as for "Potentially enhancing our relationship with online audiences" come off it. We keep being told the beeb is broke. If in excess of a £100000 plus $25000 per annum for each name is kicking around give it to cash starved departments in the nations and regions who are making do and mend with ageing kit.

  • Comment number 8.

    waste of license fee surely, the only applicable point is protecting the brand.

    investing in a domain name is not "Investing in the technological future of the BBC" and not "Potentially enhancing our relationship with online audiences".

    Is it that difficult to type bbc.co.uk into a device rather than bbc.bbc !

  • Comment number 9.

    I agree with AstonJ.

    Most of Matthew Postgate's arguments are meaningless. The only one that does make a little sense is "Protecting and maintaining the BBC brand". However, in the unlikely event that someone else really was allowed to register ".bbc", do you really think people would actually be confused? I can understand private companies feeling compelled to fork out for TLDs, but as a public service organization the BBC should have taken a stand against this nonsense.

    If it is too late to get the protection money back from ICANN and use it for things that actually benefit licence fee payers, then I would like to request that the *only thing* hosted at the new ".bbc" domain should be 1 page with links to all the expert information about why ICANN's TLD policies are so bad.

    Also, please could you add a paragraph to the above article detailing the costs of this whole exercise: upfront costs and ongoing costs.


  • Comment number 10.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 11.

    Didn't Sir Tim Berner-Lee say this type of thing is NOT the way to categorise the net?
    That was in relation to porn, but it's a similar issue. He was advocating the use of proper **metadata** to do this job instead for very good reasons, and not the re-re-re-selling of whole new categories of TLD's as a kind of labelling system for net addresses.

    However, I understand the BBC's position here. If ICANN are going to go and do such things, it has to protect it's (our?) international brand interests by securing the 'online territory' before someone else does.
    eg. the BBC sells programming internationally keeping our licence fee increases lower! (And arguably the BBC as a broadcaster, is influential in both historical terms, as well as indirectly pushing 'UK PLC' abroad.)

    Regardless of whether if they wanted to be forced into buying this thing, and (more especially) given no knows the exact future usage of such TLD's, the fees concerned are relatively peanuts to secure it.


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