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Bill wants to quiet loud commercials

Posted at 14 October 2009 04:26 CEST by Jared Newman

You know the feeling: Watching TV, reclined comfortably on the couch, when suddenly a booming advertisement startles you, forcing you to scramble for mute button. And this happens during every commercial break.

A bill is making its way through the U.S. Congress, asking the FCC to regulate the volume of television ads. The “Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act” (CALM) seeks, quite simply to keep the volume of ads in line with the programs they support. The bill, introduced by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), is awaiting a vote in the House Energy and Commerce committee, having cleared a subcommittee, Ars Technica reports.

“Most Americans are not overjoyed to watch television commercials, but they are willing to tolerate them to sustain free over-the-air television. What annoys all of us is the sudden increase of volume when commercials are aired,” Eshoo said.

freecreditreport

Interest in this issue isn’t isolated to Congress. ATSC, a group that sets television specs in the U.S., has an Audio Loudness group that tackles the matter, along with issues of volume variations between stations. And some TV manufacturers include compression features to keep volume within a certain range. Dolby, meanwhile, is working on a solution that regulates volume while preserving the audio’s dynamic range.

Most amusing, however, is that the FCC actually recommends muting a commercial if it’s too loud. Therein lies the foolishness of excessively loud commercials: If they’re so annoying that viewers intentionally try to avoid them, doesn’t that defeat the purpose of making them louder to begin with?

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There are 23 comments

ahohen1
New on Forum
Posted on: 14 Oct 09 04:53
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JaredNewman
    I just posted the article Bill wants to quiet loud commercials.



    Read the full article here: http://www.cdfreaks.com/news/21011-b...mmercials.html

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    I hate commercials . It really tees me off when a commercial break takes so long i have to think twice about what movie or show i am even watching! Quiet loud commercials? How about a "delete" button on the TV remote ? I better drink a beer and calm down before i hire a terrorist to... ahhh, a good cold beer.
    ferd
    MyCE Senior Member
    Posted on: 14 Oct 09 13:12
      I seem to remember that there was a regulation or law about this exact subject back in the 1960's (OK, I'm old). Maybe I am mistaken. I think I'll try a little research and get back to you all if I find out anything
      ferd
      MyCE Senior Member
      Posted on: 14 Oct 09 13:58
        Well, no legislation that I could find. The only thing I could find was that TV networks and/or broadcasters had been addressing this issue when the signals were all analog since back in the 1960's. In 1967, CBS Labs designed and built the first "loudness meter". The "Audimax" and "Volumax" controllers were used for years by everyone to address the loudness issue.
        Now that TV signals are digital, it should actually be easier to make the volume consistent. However, the broadcasters need to make sure they don't screw up the dynamic range, frequency response, etc. of the digital sound for movies and other content. I don't think that most people would want their movie explosions to be the same volume, frequency range, etc. as someone clapping their hands.
        olyteddy
        Senior Moderator
        Posted on: 14 Oct 09 15:53
          I find myself more and more using my HDD recorder and starting to watch shows 15 to 20 minutes late so I can zap the commercials and still end the show on time.
          DrageMester
          Retired Moderator
          Posted on: 14 Oct 09 16:00
            Quote:
            Originally Posted by olyteddy
            I find myself more and more using my HDD recorder and starting to watch shows 15 to 20 minutes late so I can zap the commercials and still end the show on time.
            That's what I've been doing for years since I got my first HDD/DVD recorder - I just can't stand watching a channel for hours where 20 minutes out of every 60 minutes are commercials, but on my recorder I can jump ahead to skip all or most of the commercials.

            Having recently gained access to digital tv (but no digital tuner in the recorder), I now sometimes watch live tv despite of the commercials because of better picture quality, but I'm looking for a good digital recorder or PVR solution.

            The volume level on commercials on some stations here have been much louder than the volume on the useful content, but recently it's not as bad as it was previously. They probably got too many complaints about it.
            shaolin007
            MyCE Resident
            Posted on: 14 Oct 09 17:34
              Hey it is Men Without Hats "Safety Dance"! <looks at pic in article> :-)

              Commercials are loud, that is a given, but there are better things I think congress should be focusing on. Here is one, how about going after cellular companies for draconian restrictions on phones, proprietary connections, overpriced plans, exclusivity contracts, not being able to take my phone to another provider because of branding, and the list goes on.
              z420er
              New on Forum
              Posted on: 14 Oct 09 17:53
                Commercials are pretty annoying but the volume change is the worst part, that and all the pill commercials. Take this pill and we will cure your headaches, side effects are cramping, liver failure and most likely death. Why do we need all these pills? Ok, so back on track here. In my area Fox is the worst for commercial loudness. ABC, NBC and CBS seem to be about the same but Fox is always way louder than the other 3. It like that in Northeast Florida and back home in Missouri as well.
                ferd
                MyCE Senior Member
                Posted on: 14 Oct 09 17:53
                  Quote:
                  Originally Posted by shaolin007
                  Hey it is Men Without Hats "Safety Dance"! <looks at pic in article> :-).
                  I think that is one of the free credit report.com commercials. "F.R.E.E. that spells 'free' Credit Report.com Baby!"
                  cholla
                  MyCE Resident
                  Posted on: 14 Oct 09 17:53
                    I agree with a volume limit on comercials.While Congress is at it why not limit the amount of time per hour that can be commercials.I think 10 minutes per hour would be more reasonable than the current 18 to 20 minutes per hour.
                    There is another volume issue that I've noticed lately .Music during the show really going up in volume to the point I need to turn it down & sometimes it makes dialog that sometimes goes on at the same time difficult to hear.It's not hard to figure out networks are being paid by the recording companies to do this.To promote the music of performers.
                    Last on the cell phones .I would like to see a total ban on cell phone use while driving.This would also include passengers because like alcohol Open Container laws it is too easy to pass a cell to a passenger.Just like a beer is.
                    If that is not the reason for Open Container laws(on the passengers too)then why would it matter if an adult passenger drank six beers or more & had the empties in the vehicle.
                    So the cell would be the same.
                    shaolin007
                    MyCE Resident
                    Posted on: 14 Oct 09 18:22
                      Quote:
                      Originally Posted by ferd
                      I think that is one of the free credit report.com commercials. "F.R.E.E. that spells 'free' Credit Report.com Baby!"

                      Actually, I was being facetious. If you have ever seen that music video, you would know what I am talking about.
                      ferd
                      MyCE Senior Member
                      Posted on: 14 Oct 09 18:53
                        I remember seeing it back in the 1980's, but I don't remember it too well. I remember some medieval-looking scenes and dress, sort of like the free credit report.com commercial which I guess was supposed to be at a renaissance fair or something.
                        I remember some of the words to Safety Dance. "You can dance if you want to. You can leave your friends behind. 'Cause your friends don't dance and if they don't dance, then they're no friends of mine." Then some annoying, high-pitched synthesizer notes.
                        shaolin007
                        MyCE Resident
                        Posted on: 14 Oct 09 20:37
                          LOL, yea the song was so 80ish.
                          ivid
                          MyCE Resident
                          Posted on: 15 Oct 09 00:20
                            Technically the volume of commercials is not louder as that would be illegal. Broadcasters use dynamic range compression techniques to make the perceived audio sound louder during commercial. A very old trick to get around the legislation of peak volume limits.
                            redk9258
                            MyCE Junior Member
                            Posted on: 15 Oct 09 02:27
                              Quote:
                              Originally Posted by ivid
                              Technically the volume of commercials is not louder as that would be illegal. Broadcasters use dynamic range compression techniques to make the perceived audio sound louder during commercial. A very old trick to get around the legislation of peak volume limits.
                              I'd like to see them go after the record companies too. CDs are mastered way too load and use too much compression!
                              HardwareHarry
                              MyCE Senior Member
                              Posted on: 15 Oct 09 18:31
                                The same over here in Europe, (I'm living in the Netherlands) 5 years ago I bought a
                                small flatron TV from SONY for my wife to see the Italian RAI NEWS in the dining room, and this SONY was the first product that electronically faded the peaks of the TV volume to the standard setting..... later also in the Hague, (politics) their were asked questions to call the networks to correct this, after two years, the commercialnetworks began to experiment with commercial words and icons thru the end of a film or serie,
                                and a short time they tried to get instead of a 5 minute commercial serie, to double it up to 10 minutes, the public respond by mass complaining at a special commission
                                who had to control this, it went alright for a year, by now the commercial networks say they had a financial problem from the so called crisis..... again at the beginning!

                                gr.HarwareHarry
                                Chicago_Guy1
                                MyCE Rookie
                                Posted on: 15 Oct 09 18:40
                                  Back on 7/29/08 when TV digital signals first began to be broadcasted I wrote both the local CBS station and the FCC about the varying volume levels in the broadcast. I was hoping that with the new digital technology the stations could better regulate their volume. The following is an excerpt of what I wrote the FCC.

                                  … The second complaint is in volume levels. One would think with better technology and now going digital once could control the transmission volume levels better. Not only does the volume change between the various TV channels but even between various commercials and different shows on the same channels. Its not that the volume changes a little it changes significantly. If this it the new improved digital it needs to be fixed…
                                  Reply from the station was to wait until they moved into their new broadcasting facilities and when they go 100% digital. Of course this did not resolve the problem. The reply from the FCC was just a couple of booklets explaining the digital transition and the need for a converter box. It as if the FCC never read my letter.

                                  I am receiving the local broadcasts via the air waves (TV antenna) and have also noticed various differences from station to station as well. Lastly there are stations which broadcast the same information on several different channels and one channel who for months just broadcast its channel identification. With all the talk about going green it seems like a total waste of power to transmit redundant information. Chicago examples are 20-1 WYCC-HD & 20-2 WYCC-SD, 23-1, METV & 26-2 METV, 26-3 METOO & 48-1 METOO, and 44-1 WSNS-HD & 44-2 WSNS-DT. Then there is station 26-5 THIS that has been just broadcasting the same sign for at least 2 months. Can anyone explain the reasoning for this?
                                  slipkid
                                  MyCE Junior Member
                                  Posted on: 15 Oct 09 18:41
                                    I hope this legislation passes with the penalty being death to offenders. Basically the only time I watch commercial TV other than sports is while lying in bed trying to unwind before going to sleep. And as I start to doze, every $*%&ing time a commercial comes on, the sound seems like it is 10x as loud as the program and wakes me up. Sometimes it damn near gives me a heart attack.

                                    I have relatives that leave the TV on in their living room basically 24/7. It is a constant source of annoying noise, reaching ear splitting levels on every commercial. I don't know how they can stand it.
                                    DrageMester
                                    Retired Moderator
                                    Posted on: 15 Oct 09 19:14
                                      Quote:
                                      Originally Posted by slipkid
                                      I hope this legislation passes with the penalty being death to offenders.
                                      Don't forget to also drive them before you, see their cities reduced to ashes, see those who love them shrouded in tears, and to gather into your bosom their wives and daughters.
                                      HardwareHarry
                                      MyCE Senior Member
                                      Posted on: 15 Oct 09 19:35
                                        In our livingroom I have also a digi-decoder with HDD(for cable), plus a digi-sat-receiver, where I have all the FREE TO AIR ItalianChannels (my wife is from Italy) and at all the Italian Channels are the programs and commercials equal by sound volume, so it is posibble...

                                        25 years earlier we visit a lot our family overthere and the Italians where speaking fast and loud and at the same time, plus the television volume was at a high volume, that I went a little crazy, and moved out of the house to the garden... nowadays they are more concious of their loud speakings, and they can't stand it theirselves.
                                        DeadMan
                                        MyCE Resident
                                        Posted on: 15 Oct 09 20:24
                                          Broadcasters have had noise suppression mechanisms for years. In fact it could easily be built into most TV's but rarely is. Adverts are inherently shouty shouty. They want your attention. Of course there is a simpler answer. Hit the mute button everytime the ads come on.
                                          Henderson
                                          New Member
                                          Posted on: 15 Oct 09 21:49
                                            I totally tune out and don't pay attention to commercials at all, but when one comes on that's way over the comfort volume level, the mute button gets hit and it stays muted until the tv show is back.

                                            So just how many products, pills, services, cleaners, etc. do the companies who pay for these ads to air think they're selling with so many people muting their ads? Don't they realize the higher pumped volume is defeating the purpose of the ad entirely? When a commercial is that annoying, I don't care what it's selling, there's no way I'd shop there, use their products, take their stupid blue pills or buy anything they're trying to peddle. I know I'm not the only one who instantly hits the mute button.

                                            The Sci-Fi/SyFy channel is another one that has overly loud ads. I now pay extra to my cable company for a DVR where I can record what I want to see, and then bypass all the commercials. It's rare that I watch a show at the time of its broadcast now.
                                            Icy Mt.
                                            MyCE Resident
                                            Posted on: 15 Oct 09 23:07
                                              Amen to HDTV with Digital DVR. Record all your favorites automatically and watch them the next day, when you want, at 33% higher speed due to FFwd through all the commercials. Well worth the fee for the box.

                                              And ditto cholla on the music volume. My wife is a big fan of Law & Order but swelling dramatic score in the last 5 minutes overwhelms the dialog to the point that you can't even hear the dramatic conclusion, you just have to infer from the dramatic volume swell.

                                              As for me, explosion volumes are only loud enough when my teenage boys get out of bed, come downstairs and complain that they have been awakened.
                                              HardwareHarry
                                              MyCE Senior Member
                                              Posted on: 17 Oct 09 19:27
                                                Quote:
                                                Originally Posted by DeadMan
                                                Broadcasters have had noise suppression mechanisms for years. In fact it could easily be built into most TV's but rarely is. Adverts are inherently shouty shouty. They want your attention. Of course there is a simpler answer. Hit the mute button everytime the ads come on.
                                                Yes, that's what I'm doing, and at the same time make coffee or go to the bathroom... like many people also do!

                                                gr. HardwareHarry

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