"I was on the Net, on the Idealab site, and I saw they had a new company called DotTV, so I checked it out," said Hannan of iBlast.

DotTV is expected to get the majority of its business from companies that register an address with multiple suffixes, in order to protect themselves from cyber-squatters people who buy an address with the intent of selling it for large sums at a later time.

Columbia TriStar, a division of Sony Pictures Entertainment, registered AXN.tv for its AXN cable channels, which broadcast in several Asian countries and in Spain. While AXN officials were unavailable to comment, a source at Sony Pictures said that Columbia Tristar International Television registered the address to protect the AXN.tv name internationally.

The cost of registering AXN.tv, in the low thousands, was worth that protection whether or not "dot-tv" becomes a dominant generic domain, the source said.

Hannan agrees. "It's a whole lot more expensive to get (addresses) back than to buy them initially," he said.

Any company that has already bought a dot-tv address will be able to launch its site anytime after May 15, the official launch date. Kerner declined to reveal how many companies have registered for the suffix so far, nor how much DotTV has collected in fees.

An expensive suffix

DotTV executives feel the domain suffix has so much potential, the company is paying $1 million a quarter to administer the name for the sleepy island nation of Tuvalu. With hundreds of thousands of potential addresses available in any domain, DotTV is expected to more than make up for that expense.

Individual dot-tv addresses can cost a user from $1,000 to $1 million for a yearlong registration. Annual registrations for many addresses are being auctioned off on the DotTV Web site (www.tv), starting at $4,000 for names that could be found in the dictionary. Currently, bidders are offering $100,000 each for a year's use of the names China.tv, Net.tv and Free.tv in ongoing auctions on the site.

"What you're seeing with DotTV is that they see a window of opportunity out there. A lot of people feel 'dot-com' has been exhausted," said a spokeswoman for Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), an Internet oversight group in Marina del Rey. "DotTV has been encouraged because it's a name that everybody knows, so they're marketing themselves as an alternative to 'dot-com.' As long as they're following the policies, then there's no issues or problems there."

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