Skip to main content

Modulation Sciences Ending U.S. Sales

There was no hint of any changes on the Modulation Sciences web site, but Tuesday Modulation Sciences issued a press release saying the company was exiting the domestic broadcast market, "Citing the near demise of the United States over the air marketplace..." The company is not going out of business, but it is shifting its focus to Latin American markets and its ISDB-Tb products.

Eric Small, MSI founder and CEO, said, "We serviced this market for thirty years but it is no longer financially viable. Given our international success and the introduction of our ISDB-TB product, our future is clearly outside the United States."

Hallie Swerdlin, MSI President, added, "We are leaving the US market but not abandoning our US based customers. We are making all current inventories of the 4400A and Digital PRO available at a 50% reduction." However, "once current inventories are gone, they are gone."

I'm happy MSI has found success in Latin America, but looking back on all that Eric Small and his company have done for U.S. TV broadcasters I'm sad to see MSI leave the U.S market. Eric Small's expertise and product line of BTSC encoders and test instruments played a key role in bringing stereo audio to analog TV broadcasting. He was always willing to help broadcasters, regardless of size, to navigate the complexity of BTSC.

After the World Trade Center was destroyed on 09/11/2001, Eric was at the site most NYC broadcasters picked to get back on the air, the tower in Alpine, NJ, where Edwin Armstrong conducted the experiments that led to FM radio, loaning equipment where needed and helping broadcasters get back on the air with stereo audio.

When Tektronix discontinued their reference standard 1450 TV demodulator, MSI responded with a lower cost, individually calibrated TV demodulator. During the DTV transition, MSI developed and sold equipment for measuring and testing 8VSB signal quality.

Perhaps their most popular product after the DTV transition was a low-delay IFB cueing system using a hidden audio PID in the over-the-air ATSC broadcast. This system replaced his even more popular line of "Prochannel" cueing systems for analog TV. The digital system included an innovative diversity receiving system that worked even on helicopters.

The wide variety of products from MSI highlight Eric Small's skill as a inventor. One of the items he worked on prior to the DTV transition was a way to transmit data (high-speed by the periods standards) over analog TV. While the design and technology was successful, as far as I know it wasn't a success commercially.

Thank you Eric and Hallie for the products you've given us and best wishes for success in Latin America!

Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.