ICANN and its Governmental Advisory Committee have yet to resolve their differences over the new top-level domains program, putting a question mark over the current approval timetable.
In a joint statement released early this morning, following a teleconference on Friday, the ICANN board and GAC confirmed that their talks have not yet concluded.
But ICANN still thinks approval of the program’s Applicant Guidebook could come by June 20, the second day of the forthcoming Singapore meeting:
The latest discussion and ICANN Board and GAC agreement on the benefits of having a face-to-face meeting in Singapore pave the way to possible Board consideration of program approval on 20 June 2011.
This seems to serve as confirmation that the board and GAC will meet for a last-ditch attempt at compromise on June 19. ICANN has already moved around schedules to accommodate the meeting.
Negotiations so far have comprised at least four days of face-to-face talks over the last few months, which had mixed results.
ICANN has given a lot of ground already, but it seems that it has not gone far enough for the GAC. Chair Heather Dryden said in the statement:
the GAC appreciates the time taken by the Board to discuss remaining issues on the call and looks forward to continued progress as a clear signal that the Board is committed to enabling the formulation of true community consensus in developing policy that is in the global public interest as well as increasing the overall accountability and transparency of the organization.
The current talks take place against the backdrop of the renewal of ICANN’s IANA contract with the US Department of Commerce and NTIA, which gives ICANN many of its powers.
Larry Strickling, head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, has publicly indicated that he may use the renewal as leverage to squeeze concessions from ICANN.
Two weeks ago, he said that he was “unclear” about whether June 20 was a realistic target for Guidebook approval.
Recently, Strickling also met with European Commissioner Neelie Kroes where they found common ground on new gTLDs and ICANN’s accountability and transparency goals.