The HD Digital Radio Alliance announced has revised its two-year ad-free policy to allow companies the opportunity to monetize their HD2 stations on a limited basis. HD2 stations can now accept "name-in-title" (i.e. "The Starbucks Channel") sponsorships and limited sponsor mentions per hour.
The Alliance also renewed the group’s charter with a commitment of 230 million in additional marketing funds for 2008. This is the third year the member companies have come together in a unified and concerted effort to continue the successful momentum of HD Digital Radio. The new ad dollars bring the total committed by the group to 680 million.
The new charter also simplifies the process of format selection for HD2 stations. The Alliance and its members remain very much committed to format diversity on HD2 to help drive consumer interest, but now stations will be able to change their HD2 formats without Alliance review provided that the new format is not currently on the air in the local market on either analog or HD2. Each station must still secure approval from its parent company prior to any change.
The Alliance also amended its membership requirements which should encourage other companies not currently a part of the HD Digital Radio Alliance to join in this industry effort.
RBR observation: Bravo to the Alliance. Allowing stations freedom to compete with formats and expand their offerings in each market is great news. It will also allow stations to drop the bureaucracy that goes along with previously "requesting" a format, which had to get agreement from other stations in the market. Obviously, allowing ads on the multicast streams has long been requested. 2008 will begin the monetization process.