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House Passes TV Commercial Volume Bill

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the apply-directly-to-eardrum dept.

Television 408

eldavojohn writes "About a year ago, legislation was introduced to control the volume of TV commercials. It passed the Senate in September and has now been passed in the House as well. This problem has dated back to the 1960s, but after the president signs the bill, broadcasters will be subject to regulations of the Advanced Television Systems Committee on what is 'too loud.' Of the last 25 quarterly reports from the FCC, this has been the number one consumer complaint in 21 of them. Within a year, you should start to notice a difference, with commercials no longer forcing you to turn down the TV volume during breaks in your regular programming."

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Doh (4, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431400)

its not only an american problem. you chance up on a video on youtube or something else around the net, and suddenly -kaboooom. your house is vibrating with some shitty american commercial. volume just ramps up like there's no tomorrow.

that was an affliction for everyone. not only americans. ironic that not the free market, but REGULATION is what's fixing that crap.

Re:Doh (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431478)

How exactly do you express the knowledge that you did not buy something because their commercials were too loud? Short of everyone who thinks that sending a company an email it's pretty hard for the "free market" to express concern over a broadcaster not volume normalizing their broadcast.

Re:Doh (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34431554)

That can't be true, everything I've ever read on slashdot has taught me that the free market is magic and can solve any problem, regulation only makes it worse.

Re:Doh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34431984)

I don't know what part of Slashdot you've been reading. Lot of hippie regulation-happy goobers running around here...

Re:Doh (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431676)

By not watching television stations that show loud commercials. Stations that show loud commercials will thus have smaller audiences than those that do not and hence be more protifable.

Or by not buying products advertised with loud commercials.

The whole idea of the "invisible hand" is that you don't need to inform them of why you aren't buying their product. Just as the Hawk doesn't have to tell the well camuflaged rodents why it eats them less than the bright orange ones. They will "get the message" - via the ones doing the "bad" thing going out of business/being eaten.

Of course you need a free market to start with.

Re:Doh (1)

altinos.com (919185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431754)

I'm a big fan of the free market but if you don't buy a product, it's anyone's guess as to why you didn't. As far as they're concerned, you might just be drooling over their products and just not have the money. Or you just haven't seen it yet. Or you already have something that does the job. They almost never concern themselves with the flaws in the product or the advertising unless someone smacks them upside the head.

Re:Doh (3, Interesting)

andymadigan (792996) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431880)

Maybe they just didn't make the commercial loud enough, or maybe they should make the screen flash enough to induce a seizure, then more people will buy their product!

In all seriousness, I used to work in online advertising. They don't care how many people they annoy. They don't care how many people swear off their company for all time. All they care about is the conversion rate. Sadly, even with TV, you more likely remember the blaring commercial than the normal-volume one. Though, I bet they'd find if they made the commercial very quiet that would be memorable too.

Re:Doh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34431912)

or maybe they just need to ADVERTISE IT LOUDER TO YOU!!!!!!!

(Filter error: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING.)

Re:Doh (1)

brainboyz (114458) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431806)

And be willing to do without. That's the part that gets most people. They don't want the loud commercials, but they still want to watch Desperate Housewives or whatever the latest drivel is. So they deal with the loud commercials and complain to people that don't matter. Obviously, the show is worth it to them so loud commercials still get watched.

Re:Doh (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431900)

One flaw with the television "market" is that only 4000 homes out of 105 million are monitored.

So if those 4000 homes don't express displeasure because of commercial volume, then it simply doesn't register, even if most people have already-quit the loud stations. Nielsen Ratings needs to come-up with a better system. Maybe increase from 4000 to 40,000 monitored homes, for better accuracy, instead of sticking with a system they developed in the 1960s.

'Free Market'? What on Earth? (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431522)

ironic that not the free market, but REGULATION is what's fixing that crap.

How is that ironic? The problem with commercials providing revenue to copyrighted material in a "free market" as you call it is completely not "free market." But without getting into pedantry about how television is one of the furthest things from a free market as possible, it makes complete sense since if you want to watch some video, you must watch the commercial. You want to watch The Office on NBC.com? Well, you have to sit through a particular commercial. You can't switch to another better, quieter, more appealing commercial. If commercials were a product then your 'free market' quip might have some meaning but when they're pretty much being shoved down your throat by the idea and design of marketing, your selection choice is instantly removed. Simply put, I can't watch whatever I want and request only commercials that appeal to me. If I did, I'd only be watching Adult Swim commercials if I ever saw any. Government regulation was the only way to combat this. Television commercials have always been approaching Geocities quality with flashing marquee tags, blinking tags, dancing jesus', flying toasters and music that cranks up to eleven and plays once the page loads.

Re:'Free Market'? What on Earth? (0)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431562)

It's ironic because in a genuine free market situation there wouldn't be any commercials like that because people would go to a source without that commercial or without any commercials at all. And that's essentially what Adam Smith envisioned, things like copyrights and patents were a violation of how he saw a market functioning.

Re:'Free Market'? What on Earth? (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431712)

Not necesesarily.

The source would have to be able to have funding. About the only way I could think of that, is some combination of heavy handed product placement in exchange for cash from the manufacturer/merchant, and users paying to see the content. The former wouldn't produce enough, and the latter, is available in many cases - people still take the free-with-commercials option often enough.

I like the suggestion someone else made (or at least implied) - the ability to switch to a different commercial on a web video if one was too annoying, would be nice.

Re:'Free Market'? What on Earth? (4, Insightful)

spidercoz (947220) | more than 3 years ago | (#34432018)

Smith made the same mistake Marx did. He assumed people WOULDN'T be greedy, selfish, self-absorbed bastards only concerned with elevating themselves and fuck everybody else. Both of their idealized systems require idealized people to make it work. A genuine free market is the same thing as the workers' paradise, an impossible, and naive, fantasy.

Re:'Free Market'? What on Earth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34431826)

Stopped reading after I realized you're one of those "copyrights r evil" idiots.

Re:'Free Market'? What on Earth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34431884)

The free market exists, in that, in exchange for being able to watch The Office on NBC "for free", you agree to at least have their commercials broadcast into your house. In the free market, if you don't like it, you don't watch. Or better yet, make your own television show. The fact that your desire to watch The Office outweighs your desire to NOT watch commercials does not mean the market is not free.

Re:'Free Market'? What on Earth? (1)

booyabazooka (833351) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431996)

If commercials were a product then your 'free market' quip might have some meaning but when they're pretty much being shoved down your throat by the idea and design of marketing, your selection choice is instantly removed. ... Government regulation was the only way to combat this.

My approach was to switch to Netflix, no government regulation necessary. Seems to me that if anyone is still paying to watch tv with loud commercials, it's because it's worth it to them.

Re:Doh (1)

shadowrat (1069614) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431600)

the free market did provide a solution to commercial volume. TiVO.

Re:Doh (2)

horatio (127595) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431734)

Before TiVo, there was the remote control with the mute button. My grandfather always muted the commercials, not because they were loud, but because they annoyed him. We don't need more government and more stupid regulations when we already have a solution.

Re:Doh (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431890)

But it's not a very good solution. Besides, haven't you noticed that commercials just get more annoying when you do things like that? Just look at Flash ads, they weren't so bad in the beginning, but now that people ignore them they're going to increased lengths to get attention. The worst ones will randomly cover up content and try to clickjack you into going to their site.

I'm just glad... (5, Funny)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431404)

...that Billy Mays didn't have to live to see this day.

Re:I'm just glad... (1)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431426)

+1 Funny

Re:I'm just glad... (1)

snookerhog (1835110) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431494)

or Crazy Eddie [wikipedia.org]

Re:I'm just glad... (1, Funny)

countSudoku() (1047544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431576)

Nice! I taught my daughter to say "Hey, there's the guy who died from taking too many drugs!" when he comes on in those tacky "flashback" commercials, with Billy in the background doing his shtick while his successor crams the killer product down my throat.

Advertisers know no shame.

Alternate solution (4, Funny)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431668)

BILLY MAYS HERE for TechKnob! Are you tired of hearing really loud commercials? Well, hear them no more with the patented deluxe Commercial Volume Reducer! Using advanced commercial detection technology, it automatically detects when a commercial is coming on, and reduces the volume 50% for you! Available for $19.95, call now!

I'm glad (1, Insightful)

snookerhog (1835110) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431422)

glad that this is the type of important stuff that is making it to Obama's desk. I hated loud commercials back when I still watched some TV, but did this really need and act of Congress to solve? sheeesh

Re:I'm glad (1)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431484)

From TFS:

This problem has dated back to the 1960s...

Did it really look like anybody else was going to solve this problem?

Re:I'm glad (2)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431862)

If its been nearly 50 years then it ain't that big of a problem. This is not only a waste of congressional time but now we will have to eat the cost of review and enforcement. Great. Especially as some TV's have automatic volume control which addresses this kind of 'problem'. Go buy one if you are that bothered by loud commercials and don't saddle the rest of the country with the costs to protect your delicate ear drums.

Re:I'm glad (2)

Cylix (55374) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431914)

There were already regulations which limited volume.

This is measure of relative change which is kinda odd to enforce.

In analogue transmission you wanted to watch over driving the audio level because it can effect power output. There were also decibel levels which were too hot and could cause many issues and even some with the receiving set. In a digital world when you drive past 0 there is no overhead for such levels and most equipment simply limits (rather poorly). In all cases there were limiters in place to ensure nothing was over driven or if at least it was then it not cause any issues beyond quality drop.

With a ceiling of 0 we typically operated at a nominal volume of -10 on tones. This has a fair bit of room in and typically you try to avoid peaking at 0 because this is hot and sounds awful. However, nothing is stopping the next station from operating at -8 or -12 as their nominal operating range. In fact, newer digital equipment also started doing away with 0 as the hard ceiling. Audio is very much relative from station to station.

Now, so we have the basis for how hard ceilings work and the measures generally put in place to solve problems. However, I don't know of too many pieces of audio equipment that can catch audio acceleration issues and adjust. Really, when discussing relative change and not hard limits it is a matter of rate of change more then anything else.

In the near term this means everyone has to start manually reviewing their carts and hopefully watching at least the bars to see how hot a carts audio is. In the long term, those shops that can afford it (which is surprisingly not the majority) will have to purchase some fancy new gear.

Re:I'm glad (2, Insightful)

Tom (822) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431532)

but did this really need and act of Congress to solve?

Well, apparently, the "invisible hand" that magically fixes world hunger, world peace, climate change and all other troubles that ever ailed mankind has failed in this one.

Hm, could be because you as the viewer aren't a participant in the market - the market exchange is between the TV station and the marketing company.

Re:I'm glad (3, Funny)

halivar (535827) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431830)

I'm sorry your remote control lacks a Mute button. The "invisible hand" must have passed your house when they were handing them out.

Re:I'm glad (1)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431982)

I've got a remote control that works on every single TV out there. It's called congress. You know, if media companies didn't want to get themselves regulated, they could stop using our public airwaves and cable right-of-ways. Seeing as how they DO use these things, we have the moral and legal right to tell them to turn down the volume. Isn't it nice how contracts and negotiation work?

Re:I'm glad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34431840)

The viewers are involved.....they're the *product* that the broadcasters sell to the advertisers.

Re:I'm glad (2, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431594)

The answer is yes, the free market wasn't solving it and I'm not sure that the FCC has the power without being given it to regulate that.

Additionally, right now you're not likely to see much useful legislation going through as the Republicans have vowed to pretty much shut down the Federal government in a bid to derail the Democrats ability to actually get anything done so that they can claim that the Democrats didn't fix any of the problems for the 2012 Presidential race.

Re:I'm glad (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431626)

what else is congress doing that IMPROVES OUR LIFE?

name one thing they did in the last 10 years, even, that improved our lives.

they stopped doing that. they make wars, they give themselves pay raises and they argue without solving ANY problems. congress is a cancer in america.

the fact that somehow they managed to improve a small part of daily life just amazes me! wish they'd spend more time on little things that make life better instead of giving themselves pay hikes.

Re:I'm glad (1)

JTsyo (1338447) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431674)

What's really sad is that the broadcasters weren't smart enough to take care of it before congress got involved.

Re:I'm glad (2)

greyline (1052440) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431694)

Just be glad that Congress is doing anything at all right now.

Re:I'm glad (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431730)

I notice a lot of people talking about "The Free Market" and how it failed in this particular instance.

I don't think you guys understand how this side of advertising works. In case you haven't seen the "Head On" Commercial, go to youtube and look it up right now.

Now that you've watched one of many annoying commercials, ask yourself, why on Earth would anyone buy this product?

The answer is simple, when you're looking at all the products on the shelf, your pick up the first one your mind recognises, and an annoying commercial will stick in your mind as well as a good one.

Not in Canada, eh ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34431466)

Sigh ... Shaw Cable just cranks the volume of commercials up. Given the undue influence the Shaw family has, it's unlikely this will change.

Re:Not in Canada, eh ... (2)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431604)

What I end up doing is muting the TV, perusing SlashDot or my news feeds and forgetting about the watching TV. I'm betting I'm not the only person like that either. It's their loss more than mine, I think.

comskippers rule (3, Informative)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431468)

lots of comskip programs out there. I'm using a video editor called 'video redo' that does seamless cuts at the mpg mode and only re-encodes the cut/join part. ideal for saving edited tv shows.

I have my mythtv capture system save the .mpg file, video redo edits it and it has its own comskip feature that locates and lets me tweak the 'red areas' where the commercials are. it has a 'plot mask' to black out most of the screen so you don't have to view the content while editing.

life is good again ;) I have not seen a commercial since I started using this. shows are now 20 minutes shorter, too.

this is nice for those who don't have pvr's of some sort, but the war has already forced most of us to TOTALLY eliminate ads.

just like firefox and adblock/noscript make browsing more pleasant again, same with comskippers.

one channel seems to put all its commercials in SD and the show, itself, is in HD. let me thank them so much for making it TRIVIAL to detect when commercials come on. danke again for being stupid, tv execs.

Does it mention internet video? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34431482)

I noticed the commercials on the videos I watch online are also louder than the content I care about. I'm not sure the bill covers that forum - which is probably why the broadcasters agreed to let congress move forward with it.

Better solution (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431486)

My grandma had an even better solution: mute the TV during commercials.

Re:Better solution (0)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431538)

Someone taking responsibility themselves instead of having government fix it for them? (...and then complaining about it.) Was she insane?!

Re:Better solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34431586)

Oh, fuck off. Take your soapbox and shove it up your ass.

Re:Better solution (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431662)

This isn't a matter of personal responsibility, this is a matter of corporate irresponsibility. Sort of like MS with that damned alarm sound that goes off whenever there's an error. It doesn't seem to respect the volume setting and if you're using ear buds causes acute discomfort.

The advertisers have pretty well demonstrated that they aren't competent to be trusted to make reasonable choices so the government needed to step in and tell them what they were going to do. I'd like to see them do the same thing with those stupid Flash ads that cover content randomly and the ones that take up more of my bandwidth than the rest of the web page.

Re:Better solution (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431820)

The advertisers have pretty well demonstrated that they aren't competent to be trusted to make reasonable choices so the government needed to step in and tell them what they were going to do.

Or, if people just mute their TVs during commercials, advertisers will not have any incentive to engage in the practice, and suddenly the problem is solved without a committee deciding what is "too loud."

I'd like to see them do the same thing with those stupid Flash ads that cover content randomly and the ones that take up more of my bandwidth than the rest of the web page.

Or, you can do what I do: disable Javascript, do not use Flash, and stop visiting websites that consistently display advertisements that cover what you are interested in (with a written complaint explaining why you will not visit anymore). For a simpler solution, you can just use ABP or a similar program.

Re:Better solution (3, Insightful)

Aqualung812 (959532) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431852)

Sort of like MS with that damned alarm sound that goes off whenever there's an error. It doesn't seem to respect the volume setting and if you're using ear buds causes acute discomfort.

You know, you could just go to Control Panel\Sound and change the error sound to a .wav that is quieter while you wait for Conrgess to do this for you.

Re:Better solution (1)

AntEater (16627) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431680)

Even better is to turn the TV off entirely.

I haven't had "TV" since the early 90s. Best thing I ever did with my time.

Re:Better solution (1)

Grizzley9 (1407005) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431768)

So you missed out on some of the most popular and sometimes thought provoking entertainment of the last decade. Congrats. What else don't you like.

I thought this was the law already... (1)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431490)

...but it seems that even if the volume level didn't actually change, commercials were clearly 'pitched' higher, giving them a louder apparent volume?

Re:I thought this was the law already... (3, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431644)

Dynamic range compression? What we have (had?) in the UK was a decibel limit, so in some cases* they just lifted everything under the limit to increase loudness. Lots of hassle for that. The law seems to legally enforce ATSC guidelines for loudness on programming [atsc.org] when broadcasting ads, which on my cursory reading means that there's a strict loudness level and dynamic range they have to work to.

*Notoriously, when Lost came over here they ran an extra ten minutes of ads per episode and made them ridiculously loud

Re:I thought this was the law already... (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431660)

They do seem to compress them. It's not just commercial either. The 'tabloid' shows and others of that ilk seem to compress their entire shows, with every word pegged to maximum. As with music it's very tiring, even leaving the content out of it.

Re:I thought this was the law already... (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431842)

Start here [wikipedia.org] with VU Meters. It's a question of saturation. If you're listening comfortably to a conversation in a movie is recorded at (say) an average -5 Db, and then a commercial comes on with music recorded at 0 Db, the music seems like it's going to blow you out of the room, yet it's (technically) recorded at the "correct" level.

Let's call it the 'Billy Mays' Bill (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431496)

To honor the late, great, shouting huckster!

Re:Let's call it the 'Billy Mays' Bill (1)

SonnyDog09 (1500475) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431916)

I like the actual name (and acronym) of the bill better: Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act (CALM Act). I find myself wondering how much money they spent coming up with the name and acronym.....

Will they turn down the volume of commercials.. (1)

chickenrob (696532) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431506)

or will they turn up the volume of content to match it and lose all dynamic range of the programming. You get one guess. Movies are going to be so much fun to watch when a pin dropping and a bomb going off have the same levels.

Re:Will they turn down the volume of commercials.. (1)

chipperdog (169552) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431602)

This is my question...Broadcasters will have to kill dynamic range to be compliant? Would a commercial after a quiet movie scene be considered too loud? I don't see how this can be enforceable

Re:Will they turn down the volume of commercials.. (1)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431608)

But you control the total volume, so whether everything except commercials is increased or commercials are decreased doesn't really matter, since you control the master. The difference is what kills ya, and nobody's going to work hard to make their content sound worse. If anything they want to exaggerate differences within a show to keep you attentive.

Movies too (3, Informative)

SoundGuyNoise (864550) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431524)

Can we make the same for movies as well? I'm fed up with turning up the volume to hear the dialogue, then getting blasted with the stock footage of an airplane landing.

Re:Movies too (2)

chipperdog (169552) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431646)

You can put dynamic range compressors on your gear...As a Dolby engineer will tell you, an airplane or gunshot is much louder in real life than conversation, so the movies are accurately representing the sounds.

Re:Movies too (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431670)

Usually this is marked "quiet mode" or "night mode".

Re:Movies too (1)

seinman (463076) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431778)

I get that. What I don't get is why the music has to be so much louder than the dialogue. I have my receiver's built in compressor turned on, and the music of most TV shows and movies is still ten times louder than the dialogue.

Re:Movies too (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 3 years ago | (#34432024)

This sounds like something that would benefit from a multiband compressor, which is sort of like an EQ before compression, but with a separate channel for each freq band so that you can control dynamics independently.

Once you have a general-purpose computer in the signal chain, effects like this become possible, if not trivial.

I'm not being hypothetical here. My TV sound and everything else I listen to goes through an instance of REAPER before it gets out.

Re:Movies too (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431702)

If that's what you want there's been a solution to that for years. I think it's smart volume and it basically compresses the volume on the fly to do just that. The reason why we have this legislation rather than just integrating that into the TVs is that it sounds like crap and makes movies significantly less interesting to watch.

Really, really important (1)

AntEater (16627) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431540)

Let me be the first to say that I'm glad that our senators and representatives have passed this. With all the other issues this country has to solve, I'm glad to see our congressmen reach across the aisle and work together in a spirit of bipartisanship to solve major issues like this. It gives one a deep sense of optimism for the future of our country.

Re:Really, really important (1)

rwv (1636355) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431688)

I know you're kidding, but when nobody can agree on what to do about taxes, unemployment, and the economy-at-large, it's nice to see that at least everybody can join together against the advertising industry.

Re:Really, really important (2, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431764)

You just broke my sarcasm detector.

Bipartisanship won't happen as long as voters are rewarding the GoP for refusing to compromise and the press is hounding the Democrats to compromise even when they've been handed a mandate to govern. Compared with the Republicans being urged not to compromise even when the voters hand them a significant defeat at the ballot box.

Given that the GoP is proudly asserting that they won't actually participate in any governing nor will they allow the Democrats to do so either, I'm not sure what if anything is going to be accomplished.

Re:Really, really important (2)

nomadic (141991) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431822)

So you think until major problems are "solved," nothing else should be done? Are you one of those people who think that if a city has 1,000 police officers, as long as the murder rate is above 0 every single one of those police officers should spend 100% of their time trying to prevent murders?

Re:Really, really important (1)

N0Man74 (1620447) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431990)

So congress should just stop worrying about any issues at all if they aren't the most important issues? By that argument, maybe should stop trying to improve employment rates and instead work on nothing but world peace. That's more important isn't it?

I have mixed feelings on making this a law, but I can certainly understand it. I don't watch much TV anymore, but I recall when I spent some time visiting my mother where I dozed off watching a TV show. The next thing I know, I'm being startled awake by a commercial that is so loud that it sounds like overdrive from the speakers. It was ridiculous how much louder it is.

Maybe it should have been done long ago, and it's certainly a lot easier to get people to agree on something like this than it is to get people to agree on how to improve economies. There you get in the realm of hot debate, competing theories and ideologies, and politics.

Besides, it's not like this has been the only issue that legislators have looked at.

Re:Really, really important (1)

N0Man74 (1620447) | more than 3 years ago | (#34432010)

I also would like to add... maybe they should have included internet video on this too... I'm beginning to see this phenomenon on Hulu now.

How do they check how loud commerial is? (2)

triazotan (1895064) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431544)

I didn't read TFB, but: How do they measure? As far as I'm concerned, it is not trivial, taking into account tricks put to use by tv stations to fool measurement. Where I live, similar law has been in effect. Loudness is measured by standarised means (ITU-R BS1770-1). And guess what - nothing changed, because no proper equipment has been passed to the regulators...

What? (1)

a whoabot (706122) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431580)

I just spent $2150 [musiciansfriend.com] for nothing...

How would Slashdotters know? (3, Interesting)

srussia (884021) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431614)

According to the latest poll (How much TV do you watch in a week, on average? [slashdot.org] ), we hardly watch any TV!

Re:How would Slashdotters know? (1)

Bobfrankly1 (1043848) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431850)

What you didn't account for was the number of slashdotters who missed the poll. They were watching T.V. so they didn't vote.

Re:How would Slashdotters know? (1)

RivenAleem (1590553) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431888)

Considering 80% of my TV is delivered to me via eztv or btchat, I too have managed to avoid most forms of advertisement. This is actually one of the primary drivers for me downloading the TV show, even if it means seeing it a day late.

Any of the TV that I do actually watch 'live' is still not really live, since I usually start recording it on DVR and tune in 20-30 minutes into the show and watch it in catchup, fast forwarding through the adds.

Yeah that's authorized by the Constitution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34431638)

What, was this sitting on someone's desk since 1980? Everyone has a remote with a mute button now!

I am SO glad they spend their time on this (1, Insightful)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431664)

I mean, why worry about 9.6% unemployment, $1.3 trillion of deficit spending, $13 trillion in debt, a falling USD, the highest rate of troop casualties ever in Afghanistan, Congressmen ignoring the very tax laws they create, and $200 million junkets to India? We've got TEE VEE and commercials to address!

Re:I am SO glad they spend their time on this (1, Insightful)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431722)

Fixing the economy is HARD when you spend billions on wars overseas and continue to provide unnecessary tax cuts to a minority of wealthy individuals!

Re:I am SO glad they spend their time on this (1)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431898)

Fixing the economy is HARD when you spend billions on wars overseas and continue to provide unnecessary tax cuts to a minority of wealthy individuals!

Yeah.... $70 billion in "tax cuts for the wealthy" and $100 billion for the wars are the source of $1.3 trillion in deficit spending. Having another 200,000 unemployed ex-soldiers here in the US would do WONDERS to the unemployment situation.

Let all the Bush tax cuts expire (raising taxes another $200 billion a year), eliminate the ENTIRE DOD budget (cutting spending by $700 billion annually, including the supplemental bills), and we'd still have a $500 billion deficit. It goes deeper than spending against your favorite pet peeve. It's because Congress consistently dodges dealing with the real world, to spend their time on nonsense like this.

Of course, this is the same Government who loves to tout and push GM's new Volt, never mind GM loses money on every Volt they sell. I guess if deficit spending is good enough for the Federal Government, it's good enough for everyone else. Why try to work on real problems that you were elected to address, when there's annoying commercials between your favorite sitcoms to worry about?

Bread and circuses for the masses, everyone!

Re:I am SO glad they spend their time on this (1)

brainboyz (114458) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431980)

Tax cuts aren't the issue, spending it on people is.

Re:I am SO glad they spend their time on this (1, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431908)

They don't have much choice, seen as the Republicans have promised to hold their breath and stomp their feet until they get their way on a certain tax issue. Seems like when I was a kid, all the stupid filibuster rules only came into effect when something that was very, very important and very, very near and dear the the oppositions hearts. They should go back to forcing one person to stand up on the podium and speak endlessly for filibuster, at least then the people blocking the bill have to show that they're willing to sacrifice for it.

In Russia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34431672)

In Russia, commercials watch you.

Who watches commericals? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34431724)

Seriously between my DVR and Netflix I haven't watch a commerical in at least two years.

Re:Who watches commericals? (1)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431860)

Yeah well, maybe on /. there are few people who watch commercials because of those alternate TV watching devices, but in the real world, you know, just out of your basement, maybe aunt Greta and uncle Joe need to turn down the volume of those annoying commercials... I can't say I agree that this is a priority to pass a bill to have regulations about TV ads volume, but there are real people who still watch classic TV. A LOT of people.

shean (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34431740)

So.. they passed a bill to control tv commercial volume but they couldn't find the time to pass the health bill for 9/11 workers suffering from chronic illnesses.
Seems perfectly honest, at least they have a sence of priorities.

Old people (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431748)

Is it just me, or is it funny as hell to think about a bunch of old people in Congress griping about TV commercial volumes? I don't know a lot of non-old people who still watch TV.

What? (1)

Fnord666 (889225) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431790)

What are these "commercial" things that this is referring to? They sound horrible. Is that something from the 90's?

This is insane! (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431794)

Don't we have volume levelers on our TVs yet?! Well, let's hope the government can collect billions in fines to make this all worthwhile.

Finnally, but there is a downside (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431800)

This has been so annoying, I am glad they finally fixed this issue.

Of course this also means that when I fall asleep watching a TV show I will now sleep the entire night instead of being wakened up by the obnoxious commercial.

How is this legal? (2, Interesting)

ShavedOrangutan (1930630) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431818)

Ignoring whether or not you are in favor of this (I kind of like it myself)...

The U.S. Congress does not have the right to regulate the audio volume of your television.

For all the snark and sniping.... (1)

Darth_brooks (180756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431834)

I can't say that I'm surprised at all of the snark and the sniping. Yeah, there are a million dozen things that our reps should be fixing. This isn't our nations biggest problem. It's not even in the top hundred thousand.

That being said; this is a very small tidbit of proof that 'the system', for all its pitfalls and failings, still works. People complained about a problem (however minor), the free market decided not to fix it, so the government stepped in and played the angry parent and said "since you won't fix this on your own, and the apparent will of the people says that you should, we'll make you."

That's kinda how things work. At least the major TV makers & advertisers didn't buy up enough votes to get this canned. You may now return to your rantings and ravings about ugly americans and your canned diatribes about the failures of our elected officials.

Thats just great... (2)

Bobfrankly1 (1043848) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431874)

Now whats going to wake me up when I fall asleep on the couch? An Infomercial?

I don't get it. (1)

EnsilZah (575600) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431876)

I don't watch TV but when I do watch video online that has that kind of loud unskipable commercial I just mute it preemptively. (also applies to stuff like the TED start music)
If it was a reasonable volume I might keep it on and just ignore it but this way they just lose me altogether, I don't get why they'd want to do that.

But how do you measure it? (1)

whizbang77045 (1342005) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431892)

Volume is a rather subjective thing. By compressing the peaks, it's possible to have a piece of audio that will show the same levels on a VU meter sound much louder. I know! We need a government agency that listens to every thing that's going to be broadcast, and decides if it's too loud or not.

That will put a lot of people who lack any useful skills to work, and lower the unemployment levels!

Free Market Ideologues Need Not Apply (0, Flamebait)

Myopic (18616) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431910)

If you claim to be a proponent of free markets, which means markets without any regulation whatsoever, then you must reject this law. According to your ideology, people want extremely loud commercials, because those people watch those commercials. To some people, it is circular logic to say that people get what they want, and want what they get. To those people, the way to determine what a person wants is to ask them what they want, which is the underpinning of this law; but to free market proponents, people by definition want loud commercials, and the evidence is that people don't completely reject the entire medium of television because of those loud commercials.

If you claim to support free markets, then speak up now and come out against this law. This is government meddling in private enterprise.

Right? Eh? Right, you libertarian Slashdotters? The fact that loud commercials didn't bring on the death of television is proof positive that people love and want loud commercials, right?

Just put a master limiter on the main output bus (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431918)

Put a master limiter on your main out. Problem solved. What? You mean everyone doesn't run their home entertainment through a DAW?

Market Failure? (3, Insightful)

thepainguy (1436453) | more than 3 years ago | (#34431932)

Some people seem to be putting this off as an example of a market failure when in truth it's not.

Many TVs have features that allow you to level out the sound from programming to commercials (kind of an old school ad blocker). That is how the market has seen fit to address this problem.

Also, the market hasn't done more than than because this is more of a minor annoyance than a real problem (and yes, I do find it annoying, especially when I have a sleeping kid in my arms and they get woken up by the commercials). It's also not like the sound is getting louder and louder and louder over the years.

Markets work, just not always in the way that people expect.

party alignment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34432008)

I represent the commercial volume is too damn high party.

Other things needind attenuation (1)

Nineteen-Delta (1892866) | more than 3 years ago | (#34432012)

Maybe when the house and the senate are done with this trivial bit of legislation, they can start on people who talk too loud in the theatre....
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