Concerns about the HD2 format allocation process are, so far, keeping radios largest African American operator on the sidelines of the HD Digital Radio Alliance.

Concerns about the HD2 format allocation process are, so far, keeping radio’s largest African American operator on the sidelines of the HD Digital Radio Alliance.

With market competitors uniting to coordinate the rollout of new HD2 multicast channels, Radio One worries about ending up with format allocations that don’t fit its expertise.

So said Peter Ferrara, president/CEO of the alliance, during a conference call hosted by analyst Victor Miller of Bear, Stearns & Co. Monday morning (December 12).

In addition to Radio One, none of radio's largest Hispanic owners -- Univision Radio, Entravision Communications and Spanish Broadcasting System -- have joined the alliance, which counts 8 of radio's largest companies as charter members.

Since it was unveiled early last week, the alliance has heard from a number of other companies interested in joining, Ferrara said, however, some may elect to join purely on a marketing basis.

Ferrera said broadcasters considered a subscription-based HD2 business model but concluded that consumers don’t see the value in paying for a radio service. HD2 channels will ultimately be ad-supported but not until a commercial-free rollout stimulates enough consumer interest.

However, iBiquity Digital Corp. president/CEO Bob Struble says the capability to charge for premium content is built into the technology, should broadcasters opt to use it down the road.