Tuvalu internet domain name causing problems

  • Breaking
  • 09/07/2010

By Dan Parker

The most famous deal in Tuvalu's trade history has been labelled as "exploitation" by the Government that has now inherited it.

The deal was for the sale of the island's internet domain which ends with the address .tv – TV standing for Tuvalu.

Tuvalu's made millions from its TV star status but now an error message has appeared.

With a quarter of the working population unemployed a large portion of Tuvalu's men work and live overseas to send money home.

The island's economy relies on it, while its people rely on the internet to keep those families connected.

The internet has also provided a stream of income for the impoverished nation.

In 2000 the Government leased its domain name, .tv, to American company Verisign, which sells the addresses to television channels, critics and bloggers around the world – including in New Zealand.

“Given that so many domain names have been taken with .com or .co.nz,  I think a lot more websites will be going in this direction and having something like .tv – particularly if it's relevant to what you are writing about is very advantageous,” says Phil Wakefield of www.screenscribe.tv.

The Government of Tuvalu received US$20 million as well as annual royalties of $4 million.

It was a famous piece of opportunism that featured in headlines around the world. But finance minister Loto Metia says the royalties have recently halved and the previous government didn't negotiate the best deal it could have.

Lotoala metia

"We do feel that we have been exploited and should receive more but they are say, ‘no, this is what you should receive’, and it’s very difficult to know what's going on in the business,” he says.

Verisign refused to comment about any financial matters but its current arrangement runs until 2016.

Mr Metia says Verisign wants a five year extension but that has been rejected and the rights for the island's famous initials will again be made available to the highest bidder.

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