Over the last few years, I’ve produced a few pieces talking about loud TV commercials and how annoyed the TV viewer can be with that scenario. Today I was doing a follow up and noticed something new has developed.
Here’s the quick and dirty of it:
Ads sound louder to anyone watching TV.
The TV industry & the FCC used to say that ads are no louder than the loudest part of the TV show they’re transmitted with.
Dynamic Range Compression is used to modify the high and low points of the data (sound) leaving the mid-range audibles alone. Supposedly smothering the volume of an ad.
Yet consumers still had to always either mute or turn down their TVs when ads come on.
And… TV advertisers are necessary. They dropped $9 billion in ad fees with the basic networks for the 2012-2013 TV season so that the nets can produce our favorite shows.
Despite years of consumer grumbling, the FCC always seemed to refer consumers to their local networks about the issue. The FCC had years to tackle this issue but did nothing to help alleviate the consumer’s perception.
Then along came the CALM Act, (“Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act.” ) introduced by Rep Anna G. Eshoo. (Thank you Anna!)
Congress passed it.
What does the CALM Act Mean To You?
What the CALM Act does is direct the FCC to establish volume rules for TV. These rules were put on the FCC and they had one year to enforce them, from December 13, 2011. That day is coming up soon.
By December 13th, 2012, the FCC rules on TV commercial volumes roughly say that the TV ads will have to have the same average volume as the programs they accompany.
The old standard said that ads could be no louder than any loudest part of the program they accompany.
This is a nice change, if it’s truly adopted. And therein lies an interesting out. The rules go into affect in December of this year but if a network shows financial hardship complying with the new law.
The other big change we see is that now if a consumer has an issue with a network, the FCC advises consumers to contact them with your complaint!
“Filing a Complaint
When sending your complaint to the Commission, please include the time, channel, a description of the commercial, whether you are watching pay TV or broadcast television using an antenna, and your contact information. You can file your complaint with the FCC’s Consumer Call Center at 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice or 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322). Your complaint can also be faxed to 1-866-418-0232, or mailed to:
Federal Communications Commission
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries & Complaints Division
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554″
My suspicious consumer mind is tentative, but if we choose to look on the bright side of things, this is a wonderful improvement/development over the old system.
So there’s hope that the TV consumer will no longer have to look to technology or do the dance with the remote to battle ads that are louder than the show they’re watching. That is, unless the measurement of the average volume of a program is some trick number that still allows networks to blast us with ads.
But then again, that’s my suspicious mind at work again.
Up in Canada, they’re deadline for quieter TV ads came last weekend and talk show/podcast host Brent Loucks talked about it on his show this morning. The item I took away from his take, was that after experiencing the new, quieter mode of ads, he doesn’t think there’s any difference in the volume for him.
If the above link does not work, (gotta hit it one more time on that 2nd page that pops up) the podcast is also at Brent Loucks’s site.