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Old 27th July 2008, 11:31 AM
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Being the master of your domain(s)

Being the master of your domain(s)

Erika Engle

It was with some alarm that your columnist learned of the auction of some local television stations' Internet domains by domain registrar
The alarm decreased when research showed they were .tv domains, not .com -- and none contained call letters of Hawaii's network-affiliated stations. The same was not true for big stations in other markets.

It brought up questions about protecting one's brand, no matter what business you or your clients are in. What is important? What is the small stuff not to be sweated over?

The auction offered;,;; and

In the official world of call letters issued by the Federal Communications Commission, the k-plus-three-letter groupings represent neighbor island satellite stations of Honolulu's Big Four.

KAII belongs to KHON-TV, KOGG and KHBC belong to KHNL-TV, KITV owns KMAU and KHVO, and KGMD belongs to KGMB-TV.

Not one station official seemed bothered that Merlin Mitchell of Florida registered the domains last June.

KITV President and General Manager Mike Rosenberg doesn't know of any Big Island residents who say to themselves, "I'm going to go watch KHVO," he said. The station is branded as KITV and that is what the station works to get viewers to remember.

"We believe that stations only need to purchase the domain names they are going to actively use and promote on-air," said John Fink, vice president and general manager of KHNL-TV and KFVE-TV. "Having said that, if anyone purchases a .tv name from this auction and uses it to spoof viewers into thinking that it is one of our stations' Web sites or in any way related to our stations," he would take action to claim the domain.

The Keep Greater Milwaukee Beautiful organization has a domain similar to KGMB, but the two sites would not be easily confused.

"We put a lot into, said President and General Manager Rick Blangiardi. "That's the brand."

Trying to secure all possible variations of a domain "could drive you nuts," said Joe McNamara, president and general manager of KHON.

Brand Strategy Group principal Gloria Garvey believes they are right not to sweat it. "If somebody else owns a name that is tangentially relevant to what they're doing, it doesn't matter unless somebody buys it to use it against them."

"More important than owning all the dot-whatevers that go with your name is to take what you have, brand it really well and make sure you cross reference it and integrate it throughout all of your efforts," including brochures, advertising and the like, Garvey said.
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