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Senate Votes To Turn Down Volume On TV Commercials

CmdrTaco posted about 4 years ago | from the dear-god-yes-please dept.

Advertising 625

Hugh Pickens writes "Ever since television caught on in the 1950s, the FCC has been getting complaints about blaring commercials but concluded in 1984 there was no fair way to write regulations controlling the 'apparent loudness' of commercials. Now the AP reports that the Senate has unanimously passed a bill to require television stations and cable companies to keep commercials at the same volume as the programs they interrupt using industry guidelines on how to process, measure and transmit audio in a uniform way. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), a co-sponsor, says it's time to stop the use of loud commercials to startle viewers into paying attention. 'TV viewers should be able to watch their favorite programs without fear of losing their hearing when the show goes to a commercial.' The House has already passed similar legislation, so before the new measure becomes law, minor differences between the two versions have to be worked out when Congress returns to Washington after the November 2 election."

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This is impractical (0, Troll)

jra (5600) | about 4 years ago | (#33758214)

Cause it ties the playback loudness of the commercials to *what program material surrounds them*: the same spot could play louder during Footday Night Monball than during CSI, frex.

FCC wisely ducked this, last time.

What will the Senate do next, vote to reduce gravity, so overweight people can get around more easily?

Re:This is impractical (1, Informative)

jra (5600) | about 4 years ago | (#33758232)

And note: they *are* at the same volume: measured by *peak level*. The peak levels of the commercial never get any louder than the peak level of the program, cause both are about 95% deviation

See also: audio compression.

Re:This is impractical (4, Informative)

wjousts (1529427) | about 4 years ago | (#33758396)

The point is that now it will be the same volume measured by *average level*. So one big explosion in CSI doesn't give the advertisers card blanche to blast their ads at you.

Re:This is impractical (4, Informative)

somersault (912633) | about 4 years ago | (#33758416)

Duh. The commercials must obviously be operating at near to peak levels with little dynamic range, whereas the TV shows are save a little range for swelling dramatic music, explosions etc.

I have the same problem with BBC Radio 1, the presenters are far too loud in comparison with the music. If I ever listen to the radio these days I tend to be fiddle with the volume a lot.

Re:This is impractical (4, Funny)

cyber-vandal (148830) | about 4 years ago | (#33758612)

The presenters are too loud on Radio 1 because you can hear them.

Re:This is impractical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33758250)

Exactly, that is the idea

Re:This is impractical (4, Funny)

blueg3 (192743) | about 4 years ago | (#33758276)

If only there was some way of taking a single piece of source material and adjusting its loudness at the time of transmission so that different volumes could be selected for different situations.

Alas, apparently the technology to dynamically alter sound data in such a way does not exist.

No, it is practical (5, Interesting)

drumcat (1659893) | about 4 years ago | (#33758388)

Umm... how about Root Mean Square calculation? I use it all the time. I have to master audio and the funny thing is unlike Creed & Nickelback, I care about not just peaks, but overall sound. It can be done.

Re:No, it is practical (3, Funny)

delinear (991444) | about 4 years ago | (#33758534)

I believe GP was employing this [wikipedia.org] .

Re:No, it is practical (2, Insightful)

blueg3 (192743) | about 4 years ago | (#33758570)

It was sarcasm. :-)

The summary, of all things, even points out that this proposed legislation is *after* an industry organization published guidelines for exactly how to do this sort of thing.

Re:No, it is practical (4, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 4 years ago | (#33758646)

>>>I have to master audio

Please tell your colleagues that the best music uses all or most of a CD's 80 dB volume range, not just the top 5 dB (i.e. avoids volume compression). If your bosses are wondering why CD sales are dropping, it's because there's little point buying a CD that sounds like it was mastered from a 128k MP3 file. Make the CD sound better than an MP3, and we'll buy it. IMHO. A Fan.

Re:This is impractical (2, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 4 years ago | (#33758562)

>>>different volumes could be selected for different situations.

Well since nobody's invented what I will call "consumer-variable sound adjustment", I devised a different solution: I just mute everything (except scifi which has cool AFX) and read the subtitles to follow the dialogue, while listening to the commercial-free radio in the background.

Re:This is impractical (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33758330)

Idiots. Get back to work. And by the way, my tv will remain in the off position except for dvd nights. The networks need to fix the actual programming since the commercials are just as "entertaining." Invisible hand of the market my ass.

Re:This is impractical (2, Informative)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 4 years ago | (#33758372)

How is that a problem? If I'm watching violent action movie I will have adjusted the volume to the level that is comfortable to me. If I'm watching a drama with no loud noises whatsoever, I will have... adjusted the volume to the level that is comfortable to me. See, that's the point; I don't want to be pitched Oxyclean at levels that cause permanent hearing damage just because I have the volume turned up hear a quiet show. It isn't that hard to take the average level from the past five minutes, and make the average level of the commercial be the same, you could easily make some software to do it and I refuse to believe TV stations don't have software that manages their commercials already.

Re:This is impractical (1)

BobMcD (601576) | about 4 years ago | (#33758432)

THIS!

Re:This is impractical (1)

tedgyz (515156) | about 4 years ago | (#33758522)

They are purposely increasing the volume in the commercial, which means they have the ability to decrease the volume.

The challenge as stated in TFA is to define the regulation in a practical way that actually results in solving the problem.

Re:This is impractical (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 4 years ago | (#33758544)

I think that the bigger problem is how to get the commercials adjusted to match the programming. I suspect that it's a lot easier to do now than it was during the 80s. Worst case you just set the volume to something sane and deal with the consequences.

While we're at it, could somebody tell MS that the error sound is way too loud and way too frequent. I can only imagine the amount of hearing damage they've caused with that. Hopefully they've turned down the volume in more recent releases from what it was in XP.

Impracticle? (0, Troll)

zoomshorts (137587) | about 4 years ago | (#33758496)

IF the volume voltage rises louder than the program, Kill the assholes.
If the modulation does the same, Kill the assholes. Kill anyone who
thinks this has ANY value. Kill their children too, the apple does
not fall far from the tree!!!

It is technology, not happenstance. Kill anyone who thinks
commercial data needs to be more prominent than Content data.

It is not a hard thing to do, It should be held up as an assualt
on the 'people's' rights. We allow this and we should control this.
Very simple. NIGGERS !!!!!
Did I say NIGGERS? Sure I did, you that believe we the people should allow this
and you that are advertisers need to understand WE allow or dis-allow these
things. We should kill you people that thinh WE the people, should allow this.
We allow you to do business in this country, not the converse. The tail shall NOT
wag the dog! NIGGERS!!!

Re:Impracticle? (0, Troll)

jack2000 (1178961) | about 4 years ago | (#33758564)

Why are you even watching TV in the first place.
Go download what fancies your taste, skip the damn adds. Watch things at your convenience. DOWN WITH TELEVISION NETWORKS!

Re:This is impractical (1, Funny)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 4 years ago | (#33758500)

>>>the same spot could play louder during Footday Night Monball than during CSI,

(1) So what?

(2) I think you might have that backwards. The music in CSI and other dramas is often louder than the sports games. Sure when a crowd cheers football gets loud, but the overall average volume is quieter. (IMHO)
.

>>>What will the Senate do next, vote to reduce gravity, so overweight people can get around more easily?

I thought they were planning to outlaw any car older than 2005, in order to stimulate the purchase of new cars - a kind of Cash for Clunkers Megadrive. Or maybe that was the plan to smash windows to provide job for glaziers? I don't know. I get easily distra..... oooo beach volleyball in TV! So bouncy. And fit. :-D

Re:This is impractical (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33758538)

Cause it ties the playback loudness of the commercials to *what program material surrounds them*: the same spot could play louder during Footday Night Monball than during CSI, frex.

FCC wisely ducked this, last time.

What will the Senate do next, vote to reduce gravity, so overweight people can get around more easily?

First, bravo on having such a low UID, and an apparent intelligence level to match. How is having an advertisement playing at different decibels depending on measured maximums and averages in the program it accompanies a conceivably unsolvable problem in your world?

Second, I don't get a lot of UBERLOUD SEXBEER commercials during CSI like I do on "Footday" Night "Monball". I guess the point is, your "footday" game is going to be loud anyway, so who fucking cares if the commercials are amplified to match the game's levels. Conversely, your CSI program is going to bet quiet, so you probably fucking care if the commercials are amplified above and beyond the programs established maximums and averages.

Third, fuck you.

Re:This is impractical (1)

somaTh (1154199) | about 4 years ago | (#33758598)

This makes me want to create programming at ridiculously low levels. People will turn up their TV's, and the commercials won't get out of line. Then, when they change channels, THAT'S when they get the blaring. Next step: all channels must have the same average volume.

I got the idea from NPR in Georgia. This happens ALL THE TIME in my car. :/

Re:This is impractical (2, Interesting)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 4 years ago | (#33758664)

    You make it sound like it's impractical. Well, I guess because you said so. I've had receivers which do audio normalization (or dynamic range control), which work very well in home theaters. You don't have to screw around with the volume so you can hear someone whispering in one scene, and then turn it down for the next loud scene. I was really spoiled after watching TV and movies exclusively in my home theater for about a year. I pretty much had two settings for the audio. One was for normal TV and general movies. The other was for action movies (about 10% louder). When I added a TV in another room, it really threw me that the volume changed so significantly. I had to sit there with the remote in my hand, so I could turn up quiet scenes, and turn down loud scenes. It was very distracting.

    Really, it's not state of the art technology. It's been around for a while. There isn't really a reason that the broadcast station can't set a normalization threshold, other than the fact that they may need to spend a bit of cash to make it happen. But, it's not in the best interest of the stations. They're being paid to allow the ads through that are over volume, regardless of the comfort (or annoyance) of the viewers.

It's almost as if (5, Insightful)

tekrat (242117) | about 4 years ago | (#33758218)

Congress was working for the people... Is this some kind of sick joke meant to lull us into thinking that every congressman isn't in the pockets of big business? Hrrrmm. It's getting near election time, that must be it...

Re:It's almost as if (0, Troll)

elrous0 (869638) | about 4 years ago | (#33758334)

It's a wildly popular bill with broad bi-partisan support, a true no-brainner. With that said, don't worry, the Democrats will still find some way to fuck it up.

Re:It's almost as if (0, Flamebait)

wjousts (1529427) | about 4 years ago | (#33758418)

You mean the Republicans will filibuster it unless it includes tax breaks and gold plated blow jobs for their rich buddies.

Re:It's almost as if (5, Insightful)

parkrrrr (30782) | about 4 years ago | (#33758472)

You mean "Also, the Republicans will...." Fish gotta swim, Republicans gotta screw us, Democrats gotta screw up.

Re:It's almost as if (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33758674)

You mean "Also, the Republicans will...." Fish gotta swim, Republicans gotta screw us, Democrats gotta screw up.

"Everyone in Congress is on the same side, and it's not the one you're on"

Re:It's almost as if (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | about 4 years ago | (#33758348)

They throw us a bone every once in a while. This time it's a non-partisan one.

Re:It's almost as if (4, Insightful)

davegravy (1019182) | about 4 years ago | (#33758458)

If the government and powerful corporate higher-ups weren't impacted by the volume issue the same as the rest of us, we wouldn't be seeing this bill. I'm surprised they didn't conceive some way to fix the problem only for themselves.

Re:It's almost as if (4, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | about 4 years ago | (#33758588)

Indeed, kind of interesting how the don't call list was engineered to mysteriously not apply to them, same goes for the ban on robocalls. Oddly enough, politicians were among the worst offenders during election season.

Sorry forgot account details (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33758220)

So AC.. I've often wondered if it was worth putting a studio grade audio compressor into the audio chain. Anyone ever try this?

Re:Sorry forgot account details (1)

jra (5600) | about 4 years ago | (#33758258)

The compression *is the source of the problem*, AC.

Re:Sorry forgot account details (1)

davegravy (1019182) | about 4 years ago | (#33758666)

The compression *is the source of the problem*, AC.

Heavily compressed audio can be detected, and a device used to automatically adjust the volume (or mute).

Re:Sorry forgot account details (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 4 years ago | (#33758648)

The compression is the main source of the problem. You only have a certain amount of wiggle room between the quietest discernible noise and the loudest possible ban, and when you hit the try to exceed it, you either get nothing or at the high end you get clipping. In music you most often notice that in the percussion.

But as long as the sound engineering is good as in relatively uniform loudness, you're not going to have too much trouble. As you still have to broadcast on the same medium as what you're trying to match.

Definitely not going to work very well if you're not constantly tweaking it on the consumer side of things. These things are best done at the studio side. Otherwise you may as well just use the mute button.

Bit Mental (5, Insightful)

Mike Mentalist (544984) | about 4 years ago | (#33758228)

Does this sort of thing really need to have the law getting involved? It's only a small irritant.

Is it a bit of deflection from the real issues that are going on at the moment?

Re:Bit Mental (2, Insightful)

jra (5600) | about 4 years ago | (#33758270)

Certainly, this is grandstanding. Just like 75% of what comes off the hill.

Re:Bit Mental (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33758368)

Does this sort of thing really need to have the law getting involved? It's only a small irritant.

Is it a bit of deflection from the real issues that are going on at the moment?

Well, this is about all we can get the Red Team and the Blue Team in congress to agree on right now.

Substantive issues? Not in an election year!

Re:Bit Mental (1)

BobMcD (601576) | about 4 years ago | (#33758446)

Holy crap, that looks like I wrote it! Am I posting to slashdot in my sleep now??

Re:Bit Mental (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33758404)

Does this sort of thing really need to have the law getting involved? It's only a small irritant.

Is it a bit of deflection from the real issues that are going on at the moment?

I was going to try to write this preemptively, but slashdot idiocy prevails...

A) This is a problem, and potentially a safety issue as well. As more and more people use (ear|head)(buds|phones), the insane relative loudness will certainly contribute to very premature hearing loss. (Ever watch 24, the commercials were easily 20+ dBa louder than the program; if 75 dBa is comfortable, abruptly switching to 95 dBa is startling at least, and likely damaging, even for the brief period prior to hitting mute or fast-forward).

B) The industry has had decades to regulate itself; the government has so far exercised uncharacteristic restraint (something slashdotters are quick to bemoan) in legislating a fix.

Re:Bit Mental (3, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | about 4 years ago | (#33758478)

A small irritant? Would you like it if your desktop sound effects were far louder than your gaming volume, so every time an alert popped up it scared the hell out of you? That would get old pretty fast. Or how about if the indicators in your car were louder than the radio? Or everyone in the world sounded like Darth Vader when they breathed? Okay that might be cool, but nevertheless.. I can imagine the commercial thing would be very annoying, if I actually watched them.

Re:Bit Mental (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 4 years ago | (#33758672)

I take it you never used Win XP on a laptop. Those alarm noises have to be causing hearing loss. I ended up disabling those sounds because they didn't seem to respect the volume setting.

Re:Bit Mental (1)

delinear (991444) | about 4 years ago | (#33758634)

I'm not sure - people have been complaining about this pretty much since day one of televised commercials (and perhaps for radio commercials even before that) and still the industry has refused to play fair (even though I'm highly dubious about whether this tactic even works - I always change channel for commercials now, primarily for this reason, I have very sensitive hearing and I have the TV at just the right volume for the programming, rather than risk being blasted I channel surf, if the volume was normalised I'd probably stick with the ads). In a situation such as this, where the market refuses to adjust to meet the desires of the customer, maybe that's the kind of situation where the law should be getting involved to ensure fairness, small irritant or not.

How about a rule that... (3, Interesting)

howlatthemoon (718490) | about 4 years ago | (#33758242)

I would like a rule that requires political ads to be played a significantly lower level than programming. A person can dream, can't they?

Re:How about a rule that... (1)

GarryFre (886347) | about 4 years ago | (#33758536)

I like this rule!

Tivo? (1)

obijuanvaldez (924118) | about 4 years ago | (#33758254)

Isn't the increase in volume how Tivo know what are commercials to skip them? If so, isn't this what advertisers would want to do anyways?

Re:Tivo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33758314)

If this is the case, what's stopping advertisers from doing that now? It's not like there is an act of congress stating a minimum level of loudness.

Re:Tivo? (1)

Anarki2004 (1652007) | about 4 years ago | (#33758392)

I believe the newer TiVo sets lack the commercial skipping functionality. I may be wrong about this, I don't own a TiVo.

Re:Tivo? (1)

DIplomatic (1759914) | about 4 years ago | (#33758428)

I thought that a similar law giving a maximum volume limit on commercials was already in place - the problem being that commercials generally always play at maximum volume while regular tv programs fluctuate between high and low volume.

Re:Tivo? (1)

tedgyz (515156) | about 4 years ago | (#33758470)

No. I believe there are signature codes embedded in the audio and/or video signal that help local stations detect commercial blocks.

Re:Tivo? (3, Interesting)

geminidomino (614729) | about 4 years ago | (#33758482)

I don't know about Tivo specifically, but MythTV has a couple of methods that, AFAIK, don't have anything to do with volume.

From http://www.mythtv.org/wiki/Commercial_Detection [mythtv.org]

# Blank Frame Detection - Is used to determine when a programme fades to black (this invariably happens between show segments)
# Blank Frame & scene change detection - As above but tries to determine that a large amount of the picture has changed
# Scene change detection - Tries to determine that a large amount of the picture has changed
# Logo detection - Looks for a part of the picture that does not change during a recorded show - i.e. an onscreen logo. Logos are usually removed for the duration of commercial breaks, making them 'easier' to spot.

And the worst offender ... (1)

oneiros27 (46144) | about 4 years ago | (#33758256)

At least in the DC area ... are the local PBS stations. I'm not sure which one it is, but there's one that makes me almost jump out of my skin when the show ends, and they go to commercial.

Hopefully the legislation doesn't actually include the term 'interrupting' in the volume limits, or the commercials in between shows (like all of the ones on PBS) will be exempt.

Re:And the worst offender ... (1)

wjousts (1529427) | about 4 years ago | (#33758444)

PBS might be except anyway because they are not technically commercials.

Re:And the worst offender ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33758626)

If they're not technically commercials, why do the executives for PBS and NPR call them "unerwriting, advertising, commercials... whatever you want to call them" when testifying before congress for budget adjustments? Just because they spend five minutes at the beginning of a show advertising for Monsanto, Siemens, Chevron, etc -- doesn't mean they're any less commercials than if they were spread throughout the show.

Hulu (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33758264)

The place where I've most experienced this is Hulu commercials. I doubt this will apply to them, though. There's nothing like falling asleep with a show on to be awakened by a commercial at 2-3x the volume.

It's about time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33758274)

Finally!

Takes the edge of death of TV before they do something about commercial volume. Go figure.

Can't pass a budget... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33758282)

No budget passed for this year, first time ever since budget rules hit in the 70s. But they have time for this?

Huge debts, multiple wars, high unemployment. But we gotta get those commercials!

Maybe they can take on college football playoffs too?

Awesome. USA! USA! USA!

ID0TS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33758290)

Can't these meddling fools mind their own business? Evidently not, judging from the current debilitating deficit.

Re:ID0TS! (1)

jdgeorge (18767) | about 4 years ago | (#33758434)

I'm guessing that the anonymous submitter meant for the subject to be "IDIOTS!" Irony for the win.

Smart Sound (4, Informative)

snspdaarf (1314399) | about 4 years ago | (#33758304)

I have an old Magnavox TV with smart sound. Loud commercials are not a problem for me.

Re:Smart Sound (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33758448)

I torrent everything I watch. Commercials are not a problem for me.

Re:Smart Sound (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | about 4 years ago | (#33758572)

Uh, yes, my super-cheap-ass no-name LCD has Automatic Volume Levelling. It's hardly rocket science.

The other thing is: who the fsck listens to adverts anyway? I've been reflexively muting them for as long as TVs have had remotes (HEY YOU KIDS, etc). Now that I'm DVR'd up, I don't even have to do that, since I'm just going to skip straight from content-to-content anyway.

So yay to Congress for finally legislating a solution to a problem that we've already solved ourselves.

Re:Smart Sound (1)

Seumas (6865) | about 4 years ago | (#33758652)

The problem with auto sound-leveling that they used to have in televisions is that it doesn't know the difference between a commercial and a heavy action sequence in a movie that you're watching -- "normalizing" both. Blech.

Seriously though, who even sees commercials anymore? I can't remember the last time I watched television _live_. It hasn't been in the 21st century -- I can tell you that much.

Billy Mays here for another exciting product.... (4, Funny)

DirtyCanuck (1529753) | about 4 years ago | (#33758316)

Hi Billy Mays here for the Commercial Kill.
Sick of commercials blaring and waking up your hooker in the middle of the night?
Using the power of the internet we can eliminate loud obnoxious commercials for your viewing pleasure.

Note: Commercials only removed from pirated material. Non Pirated material will be subject to EVEN LOUDER commercials that conveniently have the volume control disabled during duration.

I hyperbolically hope this spreads (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | about 4 years ago | (#33758322)

Of all the things that started out in the good ol' US of A, this is second only to the lightning rod in "things that need to reach global acceptance".

replaygain or something similar (1)

Kobun (668169) | about 4 years ago | (#33758332)

As for the technical side of this, it seems to me something like Replaygain would work well. Especially since commercials are known before hand (no live broadcasting) - the program establishes a baseline sound level that audio is measured against. Depending on track or album gain settings, I think that this would be made to work.

http://wiki.hydrogenaudio.org/index.php?title=Replaygain [hydrogenaudio.org]

As far as congress goes? I'm so glad they can get this bill passed, when everything else is punted down the road until the lame duck session or beyond. Lord knows we don't pay them nearly enough to think about anything harder than freakin' TVs being too loud ...

Congress has it's priorities (4, Insightful)

hsmith (818216) | about 4 years ago | (#33758336)

They can't pass a fucking budget, the ONE THING we need them to do, but they can legislate tv volume. Awesome.

Re:Congress has it's priorities (5, Informative)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 4 years ago | (#33758512)

Surprise surprise, things that don't really matter are easier to come to agreement on than things that are considered important and on which very different opinions are held.

Amazing!

Re:Congress has it's priorities (3, Funny)

inKubus (199753) | about 4 years ago | (#33758576)

Yeah, thank god. I'm glad I can spend the time I would have spent clicking the mute button on my remote.........sitting in front of the TV anyway. It's a great day for freedom people. We need to mark this with a special 4chan-style holiday, National Commercial Volume Law Day, where teenagers traditionally secretly turn up the volume of every television and stereo they can find and then mute it causing the next user to be reminded of the glorious freedom of America.

Uncharacteristic: (5, Insightful)

boneclinkz (1284458) | about 4 years ago | (#33758338)

Normally I'm pretty apathetic about political nonsense, but something about this story enrages me. This is just so unbelievably frivolous, but it sure will play well to the average voter who probably watches 40 hours of television a week and strongly agrees with the statement that "TV viewers should be able to watch their favorite programs without fear of losing their hearing when the show goes to a commercial."

It's not that I'm especially fond of advertisers, it's just that I have trouble acknowledging a world where ANYBODY GIVES A FUCK about this "issue".

Re:Uncharacteristic: (5, Insightful)

spiffmastercow (1001386) | about 4 years ago | (#33758520)

Obviously you don't have children. When you spend 2 hours trying to get your kid to sleep, and then turn on your favorite show while you finally have some down time, the last thing you want is Billy Mays waking your kid up before you can mute the TV.

Re:Uncharacteristic: (4, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | about 4 years ago | (#33758608)

This has always been a problem, but lately it seems to have gotten completely out of hand. To get decent mid-range sound on my HDTV channels (which have a broad dynamic range), I have to turn them up pretty high. When the commercials come on, they're so much louder than the shows that they come damn close to damaging my speakers. Even though I have a DVR and try to avoid them altogether, I still have to put up with these commercials on occasion, and I'm tired of jumping for the mute button before some McDonald's ad blows out my goddamned speakers.

Re:Uncharacteristic: (2, Funny)

frizop (831236) | about 4 years ago | (#33758644)

I give a huge fuck about this issue and I only watch a few hours of tv a week.

Bigger fish to fry (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33758346)

I'm so glad the congress took time off from wrecking the economy to fix this huge problem!

Television? (1)

Galestar (1473827) | about 4 years ago | (#33758358)

You mean that still exists? I thought it was replaced by internet streaming!!

European Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33758360)

Too bad I don't use the TV any more. Kinda 20th century stuff like the US mobile infrastructure.

TVs can have this, and have had it. (2, Informative)

Allnighte (1794642) | about 4 years ago | (#33758362)

IIRC, our Phillips Magnavox large screen CRT TV had a "Smart Sound" feature that basically just normalized the volume all the time. I have to say it worked pretty well. I'd always notice watching TV at someone elses house that some ads played REALLY loud compared to the program. We had that TV from about the mid 90's I think.

Why don't more TVs have it? (rather, I know "cost" is probably the main reason, but it should be a good enough feature to be fairly standard today, you'd think)

While they're at it ... a safety suggestion (4, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | about 4 years ago | (#33758364)

Ban the use of sirens in radio commercials to get attention. I don't know how many times I heard one in a commercial and the natural reaction is to start looking for the ambulance or fire truck or police car.

Re:While they're at it ... a safety suggestion (1)

snspdaarf (1314399) | about 4 years ago | (#33758456)

Amen, brother! Around here, the worst offender of this is the local police department Crimestoppers ads.

What? (1)

tedgyz (515156) | about 4 years ago | (#33758366)

I can't hear you over the commercial.

Seriously - this should be easy for sound engineers.

Finally (1)

zombieChan51 (1862028) | about 4 years ago | (#33758378)

I hate it when a commercial comes on very loud making my dogs bark.

Not possible (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | about 4 years ago | (#33758386)

A decision that politicians made that didn't completely suck? Impossible. Surely there's some sort of catch. Even if there's not, I'm sure they'll screw it up soon enough, anyway.

Rest Easy (3, Insightful)

smitty777 (1612557) | about 4 years ago | (#33758394)

Now I can rest easy, knowing that the folks in charge are focusing on the really important matters. It was just last night, I was jolted out of a nap in front of some program on global warming or something by an ad for American Idol...

Wow... I would get cable TV now... (1)

e065c8515d206cb0e190 (1785896) | about 4 years ago | (#33758408)

if only there were also fewer of those commercials :/

HI (3, Funny)

ghee22 (781277) | about 4 years ago | (#33758454)

billy mays here. would you mind turning up the volume?

Whatever happened to (1)

SuseLover (996311) | about 4 years ago | (#33758460)

AGC? All older TV's & stereos had automatic gain control to keep the volumes level. It doesn't seen like it'd be too hard to implement for commercials.

Thank God, but it is too late (5, Insightful)

gblackwo (1087063) | about 4 years ago | (#33758464)

I already dropped cable for dsl, netflix, hulu and hd over the air. I am 22, not only does my generation not need landlines, but we don't need cable either.

Re:Thank God, but it is too late (1)

a whoabot (706122) | about 4 years ago | (#33758558)

"I already dropped cable for dsl" ... "my generation [does] not need landlines"

?

cu4m (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33758480)

Whatever happened to Smart Sound? (2, Interesting)

BobMcD (601576) | about 4 years ago | (#33758486)

Magnavox TV's used to do this, if I recall correctly. I tried to find something similar for my Myth setup, but never did. Did that idea just fade away?

The buck stops here. (1)

a whoabot (706122) | about 4 years ago | (#33758516)

Only $2150.00 [musiciansfriend.com] to do it yourself.

One blew out my speakers. (3, Interesting)

GarryFre (886347) | about 4 years ago | (#33758518)

I had severe insomnia - I even almost died of it - Yes you can! Anyway I would have the TV on so I could have something to focus on and I remember commercials especially from Billy Mays that would startle me so badly it felt like I came near to breaking a bone. Subjecting me to a sudden auditory explosion is enough to get me pissed off enough that I will black list the product. There are so many brands of each product, I don't have to buy theirs. They have been claiming the commercials are not louder than legal for years, yet one time I could NOT hear this show, so I started to reach for the control to turn up the volume. Suddenly a commercial came on so loud that it blew the speakers - smoke poured out. I remember getting into it with trolls here who said the commercials were not any louder it was just a perception caused by the average loudness being higher. Now they are acknowledging that they are louder? Seems news sources have a bit of trouble "Making up their minds". I guess it's a matter of perception. Startle me and you piss me off.

I sadden myself with how happy this makes me. (1)

Fibe-Piper (1879824) | about 4 years ago | (#33758528)

It is really a sad day when an announcement about this makes people (like me) so happy!

I mean it is just television. I hate that it is such a powerful force and know that annoying commercials are one of the few obvious reasons to get up and walk away from the TV during any hour long period of time.

Ignoring the fact the PVRs and TiVo have all but eliminated commercials in my own home, I have to wonder if this is somehow a bad thing for the 60% of people without a PVR. Does that kind of thinking make me a liberal elite?

All these little laws (5, Interesting)

LiquidLink57 (1864484) | about 4 years ago | (#33758574)

From the general feel of the comments so far, it looks like my opinion will be pretty unpopular, which makes me a bit scared to post this, but I really don't like this law.

Things can sound like a good idea on paper, and often have positive intentions, but when you make a law out of every good idea it can create problems. Every law we make takes away just a little of our freedom (in many cases, a lot). Make murder against the law, I lose the freedom to murder you, and vice versa. That's well worth the cost. But all the little laws like this stack up.

I mean in this case, sure, having a commercial that's loud could inconvenience people, maybe annoy people. And I'm sure it'll make a lot of people happy to not have to deal with it. But as Americans, we don't have a right to not be inconvenienced, to not be annoyed. Of course quieter commercials isn't a really a big deal to us. Maybe it will be more "pleasant." But having a loud commercial be a crime? Really?

Usually when someone says, "You know, there oughta be a law," there shouldn't be.

All other problems have been solved? (1)

sureshot007 (1406703) | about 4 years ago | (#33758600)

I'm glad to see they are wasting time regulating tv commercial volumes. That must mean that all of our other issues have been solved, right?

Volume Limiter (2, Interesting)

TooLazyToLogon (248807) | about 4 years ago | (#33758604)

Just run your TV sound out through a volume limiter. Turn the TV volume up to a higher level that you are comfortable with during regular programing, Then turn the volume limiter to a comfortable level. Commercials won't be able to go above that volume.

Why Congress? (1)

chemicaldave (1776600) | about 4 years ago | (#33758610)

Why did this require the intervention of Congress and not just the FCC?

Typical politicians (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 4 years ago | (#33758618)

Senate Votes To Turn Down Volume On TV Commercials

Why waste all this time voting. The one with the remote control should have just done it.

don't worry Republicans will kill it (1)

cats-paw (34890) | about 4 years ago | (#33758670)

doesn't have a chance of passing.

if it passes it won't be enforced.

enjoy our corporatic overlords.

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