The HD Digital Radio Alliance, a consortium of big radio industry players, also announced Monday that it's returning some air time to local stations so they can run ads promoting their own HD radio offerings.
The extra funding is accompanied by a loosening of rules intended to encourage broadcasters to roll out their own HD radio formats, as well as join the digital alliance. Local stations in the alliance will no longer have to submit the format or genre of new digital multicasts to the alliance for approval, as long as the new formats don't duplicate existing analog or digital broadcasts.
Also on Monday, the alliance announced it was ending a mandated two-year ad-free period on the new multicasts. Broadcasters can now include "name-in-title" sponsorships and a limited number of hourly sponsor mentions. Digital multicasting allows stations to broadcast several formats on the same dial number. This, in turn, allows stations to experiment with less popular "niche" formats ( e.g., country music in New York, or hip-hop in Nashville).