The Sinclair-backed manufacturer of UHF transmitter will close the doors on its Pennsylvania factory tomorrow, but promises continue support and parts for 250-300 units now in use.
Acrodyne Industries, a 41-year-old TV transmitter manufacturer based in Cockeyville, Md., is ceasing operations, the victim of tight capital budgets and lessening demand for transmitters.
According to CEO Nat Ostroff, the vendor will close its factory in Oaks, Pa., outside Philadelphia, but will retain technicians so they can continue to provide service to between 250 and 300 transmitters now in use.
Ostroff said he intends to sell the remaining assets of the company along with its intellectual property to another manufacturer with the understanding that it will continue to provide service and spare parts to the Acrodyne customers.
Ostroff said that he expects to announce a deal in the next week or so.
Broadcasters’ switch from analog to digital produced a surge of transmitter sales in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Ostroff said. However, he added, now that the analog cut-off has passed, most stations have fairly new transmitters and few will need replacements over the next 10 to 12 years.
Prior to the digital, 10 to 15 percent of analog transmitters were replaced each year, generating about $100 million in revenue. “You don’t have that graceful aging of transmitters and continual market for replacements anymore,” Ostroff said.
The other factor in Acrodyne’s demise was broadcasters’ unwillingness to spend limited funds to maximize their over-the-air service, Ostroff said: “Capital expenditures to improve coverage and provide saturation of the signal are no longer a No. 1 priority among broadcasting.
“Customers are in hibernation,” he added. “They are in the winter of their business. Whether there will be a spring remains to be seen.”
Acrodyne was founded in 1968 and the Sinclair Broadcast Group acquired control of it in 1999 so that it could shop in-house for all the transmitters it would be buying to upgrade its stations to digital over the next several years and build a new business.
Sinclair installed Ostroff, who had joined the group in 1996, as CEO of Acrodyne. It was homecoming for Ostroff. He founded Acrodyne in 1968 before moving on to Comark, another transmitter manufacturer.