Multichoice to lose registry rights to brand internet domains

Multichoice, and its parent company Naspers, could soon lose rights to brand internet domains (or gTLDs) it applied for in 2012 as part of ICANN’s New gTLD Program. This follows a decision by ICANN to terminate registry agreement with Naspers and its affiliates, including Multichoice, the payTV service provider.

The decision to terminate the registry agreement affects 10 internet domains related to various Naspers and Multichoice brands including dotNaspers (.naspers), dotPayu (.payu), dotSupersport (.supersport), dotMzansiMagic (.mzansimagic), dotMnet (.mnet), dotKyNet (.kyknet), dotAfricaMagic (.africamagic), dotMultichoice (.multichoice), dotDStv (.dstv) and dotGOtv (.gotv).

A letter dated May 4 and sent to Gretchen Olive, Naspers’ Director of Policy & Industry Affairs titled “Notice of Intent to Terminate the Registry Agreement for .naspers” states in part: “We hereby regretfully inform you that pursuant to Section 4.3(b) of the Registry Agreement dated 12 February 2015 between ICANN and the Registry Operator for the .naspers top-level domain (TLD) (the “Registry Agreement”), ICANN intends to terminate the Registry Agreement.”

The letter, signed by Akram Atallah, ICANN’s President for Global Domains Division notes that the Registry Operator (in this case Naspers) missed its February 12, 2016 deadline to complete all testing and procedures for delegation of the TLD into the root zone (“the delegation deadline”).

“As our prior notice stated, ICANN provided you an additional 30 days to complete the testing and procedures necessary to delegate the TLD; however, as of the date of this letter, that extended period has lapsed and the Registry Operator has not successfully completed the steps necessary for the TLD to be delegated into the root zone. This letter constitutes written notice of ICANN’s intent to terminate your Registry Agreement pursuant to Section 4.3(b). In furtherance of the foregoing, ICANN will proceed to terminate the .naspers Registry Agreement pursuant to its terms, effective 04 May 2016,” it states.

ICANN will now decide whether the operation of the dotNaspers (.naspers) TLD should be transitioned to a successor Registry Operator.

A similar letter of “Intent to Terminate the Registry Agreement” was sent to Naspers, Multichoice and its other subsidiaries regarding the other domains.

On April 21, ICANN stated that” there are about 200 TLDs with approaching delegation deadlines between now and the end of August 2016” adding that it is “working directly with these registry operators to support them in this process.”However, it further stated that “if a registry operator does not meet its delegation deadline, ICANN has the option to terminate the registry agreement, as per Section 4.3(b) of the agreement.”