back to article A tiny island nation has put the rights to .tv up for grabs – but what’s this? Problematic contract clauses? Again?

One of the internet’s most lucrative and high-profile registry contracts is up for grabs – and once again the bidding process appears to be highly problematic. The contract to run .tv has been held by dot-com operator Verisign for 20 years. This agreement expires this year, and Tuvalu, the small island state that owns the top- …

  1. ShadowSystems Silver badge
    Coat

    I have too much time on my hands...

    I heard the .tv bit & immediately thought "Tuvalu". No hesitation, just a "I know that TLD code. What the hell has Tuvalu done now?" When TFA confirmed that fact I knew that I've got waaaaaay too much time on my hands.

    I'll get my coat, it's the one with the extra long sleeves that clasp in the back. =-)p

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I have too much time on my hands...

      What is TFA?

      1. Is It Me

        Re: I have too much time on my hands...

        I believe TFA = The "F" Article", I have seen the F to mean full, but usually not.

        1. 2+2=5 Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: I have too much time on my hands...

          > I believe TFA = The "F" Article", I have seen the F to mean full, but usually not.

          Usually not is correct: TFA usually means "the fine article" :-)

          1. Outski Silver badge
            Pint

            Re: I have too much time on my hands...

            I always preferred 'fabulous' as in 'Read The Fabulous Manual'

            Side note, the Outskette's geography teacher has apparently been using 'RTFQ' when discussing recent mock GSCEs - natch, the Outskette knew what he meant

            -----> What most geography teacher do from 1pm on Fridays

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: I have too much time on my hands...

              I put "Read the fine manual" in some Q&A documents - and a bunch of academics objected because THEY know what "fine" really means and found it offensive.

      2. chuBb. Silver badge

        Re: I have too much time on my hands...

        A TLA

    2. Outski Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: I have too much time on my hands...

      It's when you realise that you have half your organisation's fixed IP addresses lodged in your head that you need to admit you have a problem and that being a walking DNS isn't a great thing.

      -------->>> ipconfig /dnsflush

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Another tale of secret dealings and shady contracts

    Actually this happens all the time. Tender for a government contract ? It may be public, but if you're in that particular market it's pretty easy to spot the few clauses that guarantee that a specific company has already been chosen - no use applying.

    This is done openly and everyone is aware of it, so why choose to make the negociations secret ? That's the kind of thing that is going to ensure that a gigantic spotlight is turned on and targetting the affair closely. It is the exact opposite of what is apparently wanted : to ensure that the Tuvalu government gets to quietly pick another provider.

    If they had made a public offering with the criteria required to ensure many operators could apply, then they could let the application period pass by quasi-ignored by most and pick the operator of their choice at the end, no questions asked. Of course, the incumbent would whine, but everyone would expect that and the comments would be few. Mission accomplished.

    Instead, Tuvalu now has the attention of the Internet world for trying to avoid attention.

    Bravo.

    1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

      Re: Another tale of secret dealings and shady contracts

      .tv --> .bs , for Barbara Streisand

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Another tale of secret dealings and shady contracts

      I've had experience dealing with government bureaucrats in tiny nations. They are just as dishonest and corrupt as our politicians and bureaucrats, but they are amateurish, and just don't have the polished skills of our first world scumbags.

      It's like they don't have a good professional base to learn from, and maybe go by what they see in the movies or on tv. It's usually kind of fun to deal with them because you can figure out the con right up front.

      1. Alumoi Silver badge

        Re: Another tale of secret dealings and shady contracts

        At least they are honest and tell you at the first meeting how much they want for themselves. No need to figure out which politician you must bribe. Just pay the fee and let the bureaucrats divide the money.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Another tale of secret dealings and shady contracts

          It funny, because you are absolutely right. They are completely up front about the costs. And, the cost is very reasonable.

          Where I was doing business, I was told that I needed to have a "special meeting" with the mayor, and that the cost was $100 US.

          I'm sure the cost of a "special meeting" with the mayor of any US city would cost a lot more than $100.

    3. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. Simple Simon

        Re: Another tale of secret dealings and shady contracts

        I’m somewhat surprised to read such offensive language on this site. I thought we were all better than that.

        Plus, you really rather have missed the point.

    4. 9Rune5

      Re: Another tale of secret dealings and shady contracts

      I wonder if those kind of clauses is a step-up from simply describing in detail how your existing system works and asking other vendors to basically copy the user interface verbatim.

      One of our customers did something like that a few years ago. And to make matters more confusing: They could not keep using their old system, because the vendor had pulled support a long time ago.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Another tale of secret dealings and shady contracts

        It looks like one of two possibilities.

        There's the " job interview carve-up" or the "we don't want to change anything really".

        In the first it's the same as when a job description/person spec is written so that the person they want to give the job to ( CEO's mate,mistress,brother-in-law.....) is the only person who can reasonably apply. ("Must have.................. 19 years experience playing golf and wear size 9 Timberland boots". OK I exaggerate a bit- but only a bit. I've seen a few barkingly long and specific JD/PSs that were clearly written with an individual in mind).

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Another tale of secret dealings and shady contracts

          Has that happened...and then someone ELSE came along that happened to tick ALL the boxes?

      2. Yes Me Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: Another tale of secret dealings and shady contracts

        To me, such language looks like a rather lazy consultant (no doubt billed as a "world-class expert") pulling some standard text from another bid into his quickie job for the Tuvalu govt, charged at $500 an hour or so.

  3. Cederic Silver badge

    Nice article

    News: .tv registry rights up for sale

    Insight: El Reg article

    Appreciated, and also fascinating. If the $5m fee is 7% of GDP then if they get a 50% profit share that could add 10% to their GDP in a single contract. Let's hope they find an amicable way to make this a properly competitive tender process.

    Not that .tv should have that level of value. One site I'm aware of switched to .tv and has since returned to .com, because users just don't seem to care terribly much. Netflix and Youtube probably provide most of the online TV activity and both run from .com anyway.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: Nice article

      > Not that .tv should have that level of value

      It only has value for the marketing departments. Potential clients really don't care, I'm willing to bet there isn't a single user out there who thought "Dooh, look, it's .tv, it means there must be things to watch, like on my TV, see? Let's go spend some money!"...

      Or did you ever hear "That site 'Netflix.com' can't be but stupid amateurs, else they would had called themselves 'Netflix.tv'."?

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Nice article

        "It only has value for the marketing departments."

        Only? They usually seem to have too much money to waste if that they splash on advertising is anything to go by.

      2. vapoureal

        Re: Nice article

        Yet the software tech community thinks it's worthwhile having the .io tlds.

        1. chuBb. Silver badge

          Re: Nice article

          All tlds are rubbish compared to the commercial cooke island tld (.co.ck)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Nice article

            Trashbat?

          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Nice article

            I was responsible for creating that TLD and we honestly didn't even _realise_ the implications until someone registered big.co.ck

            1. chuBb. Silver badge
              Pint

              Re: Nice article

              You sir are a hero

              Have a pint on me!

          3. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

            Re: All tlds are rubbish compared to the commercial cooke island tld (.co.ck)

            With their love of personalised van license plates it wouldn't surprise me if Pimlico Plumbers had registered one of these.

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Nice article

        Perhaps someone should rollout a .teevee TLD?

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Nice article

      "Appreciated, and also fascinating. If the $5m fee is 7% of GDP then if they get a 50% profit share that could add 10% to their GDP in a single contract. Let's hope they find an amicable way to make this a properly competitive tender process."

      That's more or less what I was thinking. Why even put it out to tender at all? They know what they get now, they know the profit levels Verisign are making off it. Just advertise it for $10 or $15m licence fee and the buy knows they will be getting at least $5m to $10m in profits, guaranteed. No fuss, no muss. The downside, of course, is no kickbacks, no lucrative non-executive board positions etc.

    3. rerdavies

      Re: Nice article

      > not that .tv should have that level of value.

      The reason why .tv has value is that domain squatters seem to have managed to reserve every single combination of three-letter-acronyms, every word in the English dictionary, and most of the two word combinations, leaving nothing for people who want to give their companies reasonable names.

      Not that squatting should be allowed.

  4. PhilipN

    Methinks

    Time to set up an IT security company in another Pacific island nation and secure the name watcher.co.ck.

    1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: Methinks

      So long as I can bagsy trashbat.co.ck

    2. chuBb. Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Methinks

      massive.co.ck, isa.co.ck, tiny.co.ck and your-mother-has-a.co.ck are all available.....

      1. 2+2=5 Silver badge
  5. WhereAmI?

    Ooooo - first genuine laugh of the day, Have an upvote - shame I can't give more.

  6. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Public view

    Most non-techie people, I'm fairly sure, think everything is a dot com or a .co.country code - unless it's a charity (.org). And couldn't care less beyond that. In fact far too many just click on a link or look for a site by typing its name into Google ( and then click on a link). Actual site names are about as much used as IP addresses to an awful lot of the public. And if they do try to type it in to a browser probably automatically type .com and end up with a Google search if it isn't that,anyway.

    Good luck to Tuvalu if they can get a few more millions for selling old rope.

    1. Boothy Silver badge

      Re: Public view

      I was speaking with a group of people some time ago now (a couple of years at least), and for some reason browser bookmarks/favourites cropped up in the discussion. One person in the group just looked puzzled, he apparently always just Googled the sites, had never bookmarked anything, and wasn't even sure how to do that, as he just never used that functionality!

      I always suspected Chrome hiding the Bookmark bar by default, was to make them less visible to new users, and so encourage people to use search instead! Me paranoid much, nah....

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Public view

        That's not paranoid. It's simply justifiably cynical.

      2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Public view

        he apparently always just Googled the sites, had never bookmarked anything

        I saw one user fire up IE. It defaulted to Bing. In the Bing search box they'd type "Google". Then in the Google search box they'd enter the URL of the site they wanted to go to.

        1. goodjudge

          Re: Public view

          "I saw one user fire up IE. It defaulted to Bing. In the Bing search box they'd type "Google". Then in the Google search box they'd enter the URL of the site they wanted to go to"

          'Google' is most searched word on Bing, Google says

          https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-58749525

          1. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: Public view

            Bing is still no less slurpy than Google. And it's search results are no better. Until fairly recently they were imho a lot poorer. They haven't improved, but Google's tendency to offer you what it thinks you ought to have been searching has got worse.

        2. cipnt

          Re: Public view

          I saw quite a few people who type "google" in the address bar in Chrome, essentially performing a search for "google" on Google, then they would perform the actual search.

      3. A Nother Handle
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Public view

        There's a whole generation of adults now that didn't grow up with every porn site exclaiming PRESS CTRL+D TO BOOKMARK THIS PAGE.

        As if I would.

        It was the browser history that gave me away.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Public view

      "And if they do try to type it in to a browser probably automatically type .com and end up with a Google search if it isn't that,anyway."

      I'm seeing more and more advertising that ends with "Just search blah blah blah". I often wonder if that works or if searchers may end up at competitor sites, depending on their own location and search history.

      But worse, I see adverts that just say "find us on Facebook". No, thanks, I'll try somewhere else.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Public view

        searchers may end up at competitor sites,

        Depends how much they're paying Google I guess.

  7. DarkwavePunk

    Simpler times.

    I remember back in the mid 90s in Australia registering a .au domain was so quaint. You just emailed or faxed some dude at a university in Victoria (Monash?) with the relevant details. Job done. How things have changed...

    1. adam 40 Silver badge

      Re: Simpler times.

      You was lookeh! When I were a lad I got up at 5 in the morning to send a carrier pigeon to Chancellor Melchett to register "YeOldeKingsHead.co.uk".

    2. PerlyKing

      Re: registering a .au domain was so quaint

      An Australian friend of mine around that time was gutted at the move to .au from .oz.

      1. Yes Me Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: registering a .au domain was so quaint

        .oz.au still exists.

  8. czechitout

    "the Colombians used descriptions of Afilias' operations as the minimum technical requirements for its .co contract"

    The good ol' "let the solution dictate the requirements" approach, they aren't the first and certainly won't be the last to fall into that trap.

  9. adam 40 Silver badge
    Coat

    Not worth the paper they are written on...

    I predict that these contracts will go underwater.

    1. Andy Landy

      Re: Not worth the paper they are written on...

      I see what you did there :)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: go underwater

      Nah, they'll be waved through.

      1. David 132 Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: go underwater

        “Applicants must have good coding proficiency, including high C level understanding”

        1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

          Re: high C level understanding

          Haha very funny. Have an upvote.

          Some experience of heap management would be good too. Though you will need a rather large shovel.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not worth the paper they are written on...

      When I saw the headline I thought the problematic clauses might be about visas and residency rights. They really need to start thinking about either exporting citizens or importing lots of big rocks and concrete. We're all out of time.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Not worth the paper they are written on...

        Yeah, it did cross my mind that if this turns into a drawn out political kefuffle, there might not be a country left to own the .tv domain.

        1. Mike 16 Silver badge

          Re: a country left to own

          Perhaps follow the lead of the SMOM ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sovereign_Military_Order_of_Malta ) and be a sovereign nation with no (or very little) actual territory. Then they could move the whole nation to a more elevated location.

          Leads to my wondering if TV has any TV broadcasters

      2. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Not worth the paper they are written on...

        @AC - "start thinking about either exporting citizens or importing lots of big rocks and concrete"

        Requirement of the .TV registry request for proposal:

        "Proposals must be printed single-sided on A-4 2400000 gsm concrete in 192pt Times and delivered to Tuvalu sea-wall construction proposal reception site in triplicate."

    4. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Not worth the paper they are written on...

      Corruption for idiots! Is .tv really worth anything at all to anyone other than deranged marketers?

  10. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    And here's me thinking "does UK hold the rights?"

  11. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    If the prices of TV domains goes up a lot...

    Will they defect to a Democratic Republic of Congo domain instead?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    how much would it cost

    to have all the human cockroaches from ICANN followed around with an old boot or a rolled up newspaper? Paul Twomey was twice as bad and only slightly less brazen. At least our favorite rag is willing to spare a beady vulture eye to keep tabs on them. The other is probably on Idjit Pai...

  13. the hatter

    Career-limiting move

    Sounds like (obviously is) a shonky done deal. Until one of the other possible competitors files court proceedings there challenging the process, and hires some local PR to explain to the local news media how the minister is not working in the best interest of the country, and leaves a dangling question of whose interests he is working.

  14. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

    Do it yourself

    Why are they outsourcing? Running a domain registry isn't rocket science. Even if their operating costs were 10 times higher than Verisign's (for example because the computers are in Australia), that's still only $7.50 per domain, versus $50.00 per domain in revenue. They've had 20 years under Verisign to think about this, and all they could come up with was to listen to some shyster at renewal time.

    Plus then they could control the marketing. Send a postcard at domain renewal time, "Thank you for supporting the Tuvalu economy. Your registration pays for one child to attend school for 2.7 hours." (I made that number up.)

    1. Graham 32

      Re: Do it yourself

      It gets outsourced because it's unlikely the government has its own experts. That's true in most countries, and Tuvalu has a population roughly the same size as Oakham.

    2. Tams

      Re: Do it yourself

      Because someone's pockets are getting lined and they have to do very little ongoing work for it.

      Running it themselves would require expending effort.

  15. TwistedPsycho

    If all the identifiers were removed, I would swear we were talking about corruption in the House of Commons!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A tiny island nation has put the rights to .tv up for grabs

    Read this and at first glance thought the Tories had finally got their wish and were going to sell-off the BBC.

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