Torrid tale of NBC, FCC, and Conan's manatee fetish site

Last week's edition of the New York Times included an odd item about NBC latenight host Conan O'Brien doing an on-air bit about a hypothetical fetish site called But, the NYT reported:
There was only one problem: as of the taping of that show, which concluded at 6:30 p.m., no such site existed. Which presented an immediate quandary for NBC: If a viewer were somehow to acquire the license to use that Internet domain name, then put something inappropriate on the site, the network could potentially be held liable for appearing to promote it. In a pre-emptive strike inspired as much by the regulations of the Federal Communications Commission as by the laws of comedy, NBC bought the license to, for $159, after the taping of the Dec. 4 show but before it was broadcast.

Conan being Conan, he and the late-night team soon built out and launched a bogus porn site at that address, all about horny manatees. Radar Magazine ran a followup item, pointing out that...

There are no FCC regulations that required NBC to buy the domain. "We have no regulations dealing with URLs," says David Fiske, an FCC spokesman. "I don't know what they're talking about, frankly."

"Yeah, the Times overstated that a bit!" wrote Marc Liepis, a spokesman for the show, in an e-mail, explaining that NBC has a policy of registering domain names mentioned on-air not to comply with regulations but "to prevent others from registering sites that our talent mention, then trading off our intellectual property."

Who cares. What BoingBoing readers no doubt want to know is -- finally, finally there is an online home for hot manatee-on-manatee action: Link.

Reader comment: Glenn Fleishman says,

"NBC bought the license to, for $159," More importantly -- "bought the license," what are we in the 1950s dot com world or something? Did they buy the license for all the internets? Where they smoking the drugs when they paid the $159?
John Brownlee from Wired blog Table of Malcontents says
According to Conan O'Brien, they licensed it for 10 years for $159, which isn't great but ain't too shabby. We posted a video clip of Conan explaining the whole thing here: Link
BoingBoing buddy Gareth Branwyn says,
...And Andy Samdberg was on Late Night last night and attempted to converge the very viral "Dick in a Box" SNL Digital Short with by showing "Fan Art" he'd done of him and the Manatee with their dicks in festive, gift-wrapped boxes.

Here's the link to "Dick in a Box" (Link), though postings of which appear to be disappearing from YouTube as we speak, even though Samberg said last night that NBC had sent it to YouTube. Not THIS again...

Oscar says
NBC does in fact have an official YouTube account, under which they posted the uncensored version of Dick in a Box, among other things. So maybe they only half-understand how this viral video business works. Link.
Previous BoingBoing posts on NBC's adventures in viral video: Link.