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US Bans Loud Commercials

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the turn-it-down dept.

Advertising 289

bs0d3 writes "On Tuesday, the FCC passed the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act, or CALM. It's a law that states all commercials must run at the same volume as network newscasts. The same applies to network promos. The responsibility falls on cable providers like Comcast or charter. The law will not take effect until next year which leaves it plenty of time to be challenged in court by cable providers or advertisers."

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Pretty late for this, don't you think? (5, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377308)

Great. If only it was 20 years ago and the Internet didn't exist.

Re:Pretty late for this, don't you think? (4, Interesting)

danomac (1032160) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377354)

It's about time. When TVs and amplifiers come with anti-blasting correction you know it's pretty bad.

Actually, I wonder how that'll affect mythtv's commercial detection? I know it uses audio as one of its inputs...

Re:Pretty late for this, don't you think? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38377456)

Believe audio skip and audio detection programs use the audio drop out (momentary *complete* silence) between the program and the commercial to find the commercials, not the average volume levels.

Re:Pretty late for this, don't you think? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38378214)

Yes, but it probably uses sound level and length to determine which segment is the commercials.

Re:Pretty late for this, don't you think? (1)

danomac (1032160) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378302)

Yes, but the problem now is that how will it differentiate from a screen change if the commercials are required to be the same level as the broadcasting? It's possible to have a three minute scene with fades and audio cuts. It's going to be pretty hard to differentiate, even with the watermark logos.

At least when the audio level is significantly different it's a fairly good sign. The watermark logos aren't necessarily on right away after commercial so that can't be relied on either.

I'm sure they'll come up with another method or two, or just augment what they have. I quite enjoy the commercial skipping.

Re:Pretty late for this, don't you think? (5, Funny)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377362)

We need the "Caps Lock Annhilation Program" to stop loud posters.

Re:Pretty late for this, don't you think? (3, Funny)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377498)

(avoiding stupid lameness filter)

WHAT?! WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO DO THAT?!

(damn lameness filter avoidance tactic)

Oo, bad acronym... (5, Funny)

zooblethorpe (686757) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377502)

We need the "Caps Lock Annhilation Program" to stop loud posters.

Well, you're welcome to it, but *I* certainly don't need the CLAP.

Cheers,

ahem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38377666)

ahem. I said, U.S. BANS LOUD COMMERCIALS!

hope you heard me.

Re:Pretty late for this, don't you think? (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378246)

We need the "Caps Lock Annhilation Program" to stop loud posters.

POPVLVS ROMAE ANTIQVAE HUIC LEGI PROPONITVR ADVERSENT

Re:Pretty late for this, don't you think? (5, Insightful)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377630)

What does the internet have to do with it? Last time I checked, hundreds of millions of people still watched TV. I agree this law should have come sooner, but it's not as though it's too late to be a good thing. Just like the Do Not Call list was a good thing even though cell phones were already invented.

Re:Pretty late for this, don't you think? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38377674)

What's the difference between a jew and a pizza?
A pizza doesn't scream in the oven.

Re:Pretty late for this, don't you think? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38377738)

What's the difference between a nigger and a snow tire?
A snow tire doesn't sing when you put chains on it.

Re:Pretty late for this, don't you think? (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38377900)

I know this is probably feeding the troll... but you wouldn't put chains on a snow tire. you buy them so you don't need to use chains...

Re:Pretty late for this, don't you think? (0)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377992)

I know this is probably feeding the troll... but you wouldn't put chains on a snow tire. you buy them so you don't need to use chains...

Light snow turns to heavy snow or ice? You better believe I'm putting chains on my snow tires.

Re:Pretty late for this, don't you think? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38378192)

No, you make the nigger put chains on your snow tire

Re:Pretty late for this, don't you think? (-1, Offtopic)

danomac (1032160) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378346)

You still need chains to go through mountain passes here. You'd be crazy not to.

Highways do keep plows running around the clock, but if you get heavy snowfall the accumulation would be too much for your tires to deal with.

(Got caught going to a ski hill a long time ago... glad I had chains to put on my snow tires, everyone else slid off the road...)

Re:Pretty late for this, don't you think? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38377730)

All of the comments so far are "it's about time," so I'm just going to respond to the first post I see.

There already was a standard requiring commercials to limit loudness. A commercial could not be louder than the program it was accompanying, which meant it could not be louder than the loudest point in the programming. What that meant is if there was a single gunshot in an hour, your commercials in that hour could be very, very loud. Also, loudness was not weighted. High-pitched ringing and speaking at the same level were considered equally loud, even though human hearing is skewed (A-weighting) to perceive speech as inherently louder.

So what this really does is 1) re-define what constitutes "loud", and 2) give the process some teeth.

Re:Pretty late for this, don't you think? (2, Informative)

Dogbertius (1333565) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378330)

The bigger problem is working around the requirement by (ab)using the principles of the psycho-acoustic modelling of sound, like with A-weighting and equal-loudness contours.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equal-loudness_contours [wikipedia.org]

Essentially, the human ear's perceived intensity at different volumes is frequency dependent. One trick is using an auto-tuner to "shift" audio to nearby frequencies so that the overall loudness (as measured by an ideal microphone) is within the acceptable limits in the proposal, but the human ear "hears" them as if they are louder than they really are.

about freakin time (4, Informative)

mug funky (910186) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377314)

there's standards for loudness in most countries, but they're completely ignored by the broadcasters. they take an ad that's the correct standard volume and go ahead and turn it up anyway.

Re:about freakin time (2)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377530)

Hah, so this means it'll bring the U.S. into the civilized world of... having commercial-loudness standards that nobody follows.

Re:about freakin time (1)

Ensign Nemo (19284) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378386)

If this article [democracyjournal.org] has any bearing in reality, then no. The courts will say this infringes advertisers' freedom of speech and will be struck down.

Article summary: Freedom of speech is becoming a large stick with which corporations and let-the-market-decide type folks can beat everyone into submission.

Re:about freakin time (2)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378426)

Interesting that one can put "reasonable time-place-and-manner" restrictions on public assembly to petition for redress of grievances, but not on commercial advertising...

Re:about freakin time (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38377550)

I WONDER HOW LOUD IS DEFINED. MODERN MUSIC FOR EXAMPLE REPHASES MUSIC FOR INCREASED SONIC ENERGY IN THE SAME DYNAMIC RANGE. TRY LISTENING TO ANY MODERN CD ALONG SIDE OF SAY AN OLD BLONDIE CD. THE OLD ONES ARE QUIET SOUNDING. SO DOES LOUDNESS MEAN PEAK OR AVERAGE OR PEAK AVERAGE ENERGY OVER SOME SHORT INTERVAL.
Filter error: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING. Filter error: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING. Filter error: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING. Filter error: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING. Filter error: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING. Filter error: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING. Filter error: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING. Filter error: Don't use so many caps.SLASHDOT.COM">FOO

Re:about freakin time (1)

mug funky (910186) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378024)

WITH a little bit of LUCK they'll be using EBU R-128 to define loudness.

RMS can be SPOOFED TOO FUCKING EASILY and PeaK is MeaningLess.

all things said and done, they'll probably just eye off the analog VU meters and say "good enough" like they've always done.

here's the trick - ads, at least in the production and mastering have always had a volume that's standardized, even if it's based in VU meters and not very accurate. the problem is networks essentially having one tape deck set at unity gain for playing the programs, and one tape deck with the output volume cranked for playing the ads on, then they switch between them. it's so easy for them to do. it's all servers and files now, but that doesn't stop them abusing metadata and such.

Re:about freakin time (2)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377958)

there's standards for loudness in most countries, but they're completely ignored by the broadcasters. they take an ad that's the correct standard volume and go ahead and turn it up anyway.

The difference is Americans bitch about this.

And by the way, these regulations are not completely ignored in all cases. The UK is pretty serious about fining offenders, and banning their adverts.

There are technical issues involved, such as measuring loudness (not everybody agrees on how this should be done) or when (whole program average, last 5 minute average, etc.). People have been asking for this for 30 years, and only now has there been any proposed standard for applying the volume limit. Previously there has been nothing but bickering about technical means as a smoke screen.

Forcing the few cable providers to enforce this will be far easier than forcing a thousand ad production companies to limit their volume.
Pretty soon the cable providers (which in many cases are owners of or owned by broadcast networks, will impose their own noise levels on commercials submitted for airing.

I doubt it will be ignored.

Re:about freakin time (4, Informative)

jrumney (197329) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378294)

Its usually not done by turning the volume up, as that would break the law. Its done by compressing the dynamic range, so the maximum volume of the commercials is the same as the maximum volume of the programs, but the average volume is much louder.

good start (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38377320)

Now, if they'll also ban quiet and medium-loud ones, we'll really be getting somewhere.

Re:good start (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377566)

comskip, worth every penny I paid for the HTPC.

Re:good start (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38377880)

piratebay has quicker roi

How loud is that? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38377352)

The problem with ads is that they, like top 40 music, are much more heavily compressed than movies or newstalk. The maximum amplitude isn't any higher though. So what measure of "loudness" is it going to be? Because if it's amplitude, then this law will do precisely nothing.

Re:How loud is that? (1, Interesting)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377626)

This.

And making the cable provider responsible may be the right thing for local avail ads (ads the cable company inserts into network feeds), but how are they supposed to monitor and control network-sourced ads?

Re:How loud is that? (1)

ShavedOrangutan (1930630) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377976)

If the penalties were heavy enough, perhaps they'd reduce ad volumes to substantially lower than the program content, just in case they were fed something loud by the network. That would be fine by me!

Re:How loud is that? (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378054)

How?
By using technical means. Jeeze, this technology is already commercially available and built into many TV sets. Its not rocket science.

Re:How loud is that? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378242)

They'll figure it out after the first few fines.

Re:How loud is that? (2)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377712)

No... at least not always. In my own experience, for most of the shows that I watch, I am always having to turn the volume down when commercials start because the volume difference is very significant between it and the program I was watching. This may be just a consequence of some of the shows that I watch having low recording levels, rather than a direct result of the station making the commercial louder, but it's still a distinct volume difference.

Re:How loud is that? (2)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377872)

You don't understand the difference between amplification and dynamic range compression. Dynamic range compression increases the RMS amplitude without affecting the peak amplitude, thereby sounding louder without exceeding simple amplitude limits.

Not simple volume (4, Informative)

pavon (30274) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377746)

The rule is based on ATSC A/85 RP [aice.org] (70 page PDF), which most definitely is not just a simple amplitude definition.

Well that's all well and good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38377782)

but some of us have tickets for Rigoletto.

Re:How loud is that? (1)

Snarf You (1285360) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377786)

My guess is that regular content will end up being compressed and amplified to compensate (say goodbye to dynamic range in movies) so that normal content and commercials are all at the same, as-loud-as-possible-without-clipping volume. After all, that would be the easiest approach for television station operators.

Re:How loud is that? (1)

mug funky (910186) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378078)

the easiest for TV stations would be to punch the volume button back in to unity on their B-roll playback deck. it's the equivalent of a rough mouse-click. with the volume dial pulled out, you have manual control, with the dial pushed in, it's unity no matter where you set it. actually an example of good design from Sony - the old Digibeta decks.

Re:How loud is that? (3, Informative)

caladine (1290184) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377918)

It's loudness as defined by the measurement technique in ITU BS.1770, which is a lot more than amplitude.

Actual FCC Report & Order (4, Informative)

TheSync (5291) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377370)

Here is a link to the FCC website for the actual text of the Report and Order [fcc.gov] regarding implementation of the CALM Act.

Washington's got nothing better to do? (-1)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377380)

What's wrong with the mute button or changing channels?

This is just another useless regulation that requires hiring more bureaucrats to ensure compliance.

Re:Washington's got nothing better to do? (3, Informative)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377460)

Too late when they've blown your speakers or woke your neighbors up.

Re:Washington's got nothing better to do? (4, Insightful)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377472)

Because sometimes, especially while listening to a quiet movie, you PREFER NOT TO BE SUDDENLY BLASTED WITH NOISE!!

It's annoying as hell. I do kind of agree with you though that it doesn't seem like something the government needs to regulate. But, hey, at least it isn't something actually evil (*ahem* SOPA). And yes, it's a bit sad that I'm glad just because something the government does isn't completely wrong.

Re:Washington's got nothing better to do? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38377558)

Because sometimes, especially while listening to a quiet movie, you PREFER NOT TO BE SUDDENLY BLASTED WITH NOISE!!

I agree. But you know what? There's a technical solution for that, and TVs these days come with settings that prevent that from happening.

It's annoying as hell. I do kind of agree with you though that it doesn't seem like something the government needs to regulate. But, hey, at least it isn't something actually evil (*ahem* SOPA).

From our perspective, because we agree with what they're trying to accomplish. I don't agree with the means, though, which makes it very bad legislation. If we let the government get involved in trivial stuff that is beneficial for us, we're giving them the precedent to get involved in all sorts of trivial things in our daily lives. That's something I like to avoid.

Re:Washington's got nothing better to do? (1)

mug funky (910186) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378128)

ha! go ahead and give me a slippery slope argument for this situation. i dare you!

Re:Washington's got nothing better to do? (5, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378160)

From our perspective, because we agree with what they're trying to accomplish. I don't agree with the means, though, which makes it very bad legislation.

Just because YOU do not agree with the means does not make it bad legislation.

We have government for precisely this reason, to restore some semblance of a balance of power between the individual consumer and the corporate giants who feel free to subject you to anything they think they can make you swallow. They are using our airwaves, and our TV sets, to say nothing about our eyeballs, they should follow our rules.

Your position seems to be you always have the right to turn it off, and any abuse you get is of your own choice. I'm not willing to make that choice. Why should I? What kind of freedom is that? The choice to take it or leave it? Screw that. They can operate by our rules, or operate not at all. Let them take it or leave it for a while. They've had their way for 30 years.

Re:Washington's got nothing better to do? (5, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377696)

Because sometimes, especially while listening to a quiet movie, you PREFER NOT TO BE SUDDENLY BLASTED WITH NOISE!!

It's annoying as hell. I do kind of agree with you though that it doesn't seem like something the government needs to regulate. But, hey, at least it isn't something actually evil (*ahem* SOPA). And yes, it's a bit sad that I'm glad just because something the government does isn't completely wrong.

What's so amazing about this is I have a MAD Magazine reprint parodying thise from about 1960 - Someone's watching a late night feature and can hardly hear the sound 'ah help your killing me. aaagh.' suddenly, TICK TOCK TICK TOCK ARE YOU HAVING TROUBLE GETTING TO SLEEP!! and neighbors all yelling out their windows to turn the noise down. Wow. About 51 years since that bit in the magazine. Glaciers move faster.

Re:Washington's got nothing better to do? (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378300)

Making the ads louder draws attention to them. It works, and advertisers will keep doing anything that works. Even if it just draws enough attention for people to mute it, they still notice the ad. Any attention is good attention for them. I've noticed this happening on Hulu (just enough to notice and be mildly irritating), since I don't actually watch TV anymore. Of course, Hulu's ads aren't interesting to me anyways (really, a 21-year-old single guy isn't going to be interested in Pediasure, TYVM), which is a failing on their part.

Re:Washington's got nothing better to do? (3, Insightful)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377774)

Because sometimes, especially while listening to a quiet movie, you PREFER NOT TO BE SUDDENLY BLASTED WITH NOISE!!

It's annoying as hell. I do kind of agree with you though that it doesn't seem like something the government needs to regulate

I'm assuming that's why the government acted so late - they were hoping for a free market solution to the problem. Because really, it's silly that the government needs to do something that industry really can do itself. All the government has to do is normally just make whinings about it, and industry goes and does it pre-emptively to prevent regulation.

In this case, no one cared enough at the stations to actually do it, the government gave up waiting for the free market to do something that's generating tons of complaints, and acted on it.

Speaking of which, here in Canada, it seems the History Channel (Canada) is deliberately doing it. The ads are always MUCH louder than the show. The show's at normal volume with rest of channels I watch (except Discovery has seemed to gone DOWN in volume...), but when it switches to ads, the volume jumps sharply. It goes soft during programming again.

And no, I'm not always watching the show, I just know when the commercials are on because they really are louder.

Re:Washington's got nothing better to do? (1)

mug funky (910186) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378112)

they already have people that have been doing this for analog networks, because loudness caused problems with overmodulation and interfering with other radio bands.

this just means a few of those folks will get to keep their jobs, so long as they re-train a little bit.

ie not as wasteful as you might think, and actually of benefit to the general public.

Re:Washington's got nothing better to do? (-1, Troll)

Sebastopol (189276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377490)

laziness. i want the government to push my mute button for me. /s

Re:Washington's got nothing better to do? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38377492)

So your solution is instead of one person submitting a reasonable volume on their ad millions should have to hit mute or change channels? How about we just don't submit loud ads that a large majority don't want anyway. Sounds like a decent regulation to me. Surprised it was ever allowed in the first place.

Re:Washington's got nothing better to do? (-1, Flamebait)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377668)

Pfft, whiny socialist. "Don't make millions of people push mute, don't make millions of people buy their own water distillation systems, don't make millions of people set up airtight domes over their houses, WAAH WAAH WAAH." Hope you can get a job for the government after you choke every poor struggling business to death with your damn regulation!

Re:Washington's got nothing better to do? (1)

Thexare Blademoon (1010891) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378254)

Of the businesses being forced to change their practices due to (any) new regulations, how many of them are poor and struggling, and how many of them are a half-step removed from being a monopoly?

Re:Washington's got nothing better to do? (2)

mug funky (910186) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378148)

nobody submits an out-of-spec ad. it's the networks that turn them up, not the ad makers.

Re:Washington's got nothing better to do? (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377500)

Because by the time you mute, it's too late.

Change channels? I'm busy peeing.

This is a good thing, but people like you are deluded.

Re:Washington's got nothing better to do? (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377540)

How many bureaucrats does it take to run a shell script?

Re:Washington's got nothing better to do? (3, Insightful)

TWX (665546) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377554)

uh, you do know that everything to do with broadcasting is regulated through the FCC and basically always has been, right?

In an ideal world they'd have threatened revocation of broadcasting licenses due to the safety and equipment longevity problems caused by the overly loud commercials, and that would have gotten the industry to fix it real fast.

Re:Washington's got nothing better to do? (4, Insightful)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377754)

Because if I have to mute or change the channel at every commercial:

1) It's highly obnoxious
2) I'm likely to miss parts of what I was trying to watch
3) It defeats the purpose of advertising

It's not like they're spending a trillion dollars to do this. It's just a nice simple curb on the advertisers' bad behavior. I know some people think the government should be basically comatose, and complain whenever they do anything. But most of us like when our representatives represent us.

Re:Washington's got nothing better to do? (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378074)

Why should I?

news (1)

Johnny Mnemonic (176043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377402)

They'll just raise the volume of their newscasts to be above the normal level of the rest of the channel.

Who watches ads anymore anyways?

Re:news (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377458)

Most TV viewers.
Sorry, but you are in the minority.

Re:news (1)

MaXintosh (159753) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377504)

Who watches ads anymore anyways?
The overwhelming majority of Americans?

The problem is not the average loudness. If a channel is quiet, you can raise the volume and be fine. Loud? Turn it down, you're fine. It's sudden variation in volume that's the problem. You're cruising along, watching some TV, and then suddenly there's a super loud ad yelling at you at the top of its lungs. What's to do? Turn down the volume? Can't hear the news cast. Turn it down, and then up again? At some point, the average user is left with either "put a lot of effort into moderating the volume" or "say screw it and let things fall as they are."

Re: Or... (3, Insightful)

Phrogman (80473) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377578)

"Fuck this shit, I will just go download it and not have any ads at all". And they wonder why people download TV show?

Re: Or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38378008)

Amen.

The loudness of commercials is one of the reasons I now deliberately don't watch them. And found my life measurably better because of it.

Now I download the shows, and I don't even have to hit "mute" every time they come on. If they didn't have adverts at all, I'd be more likely to watch them on the TV at the time they are broadcast (or at least PVR them)

Exactly right (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378050)

Regulations always end up with the most evil effect possible, as it forces people to be devious to work around them.

Re:Exactly right (1)

Ensign Nemo (19284) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378434)

Whereas without regulations, everything is happy-happy koombaya land?

Note: I'm not disagreeing with you, but not having regulations doesn't work either.

ITS ABOUT TIME (2)

davidwr (791652) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377414)

THIS LAW SHOULD HAVE BEEN PASSED AGES AGO.

obligatory lower case text to get past /.'s ban on too-loud posts.

Yes (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377438)

It's about time.

Same *Average* volume (2)

milbournosphere (1273186) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377440)

*kaboom*HEADON ...*whisper*apply directly to the forehead.

Catching up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38377508)

Catching up with the rest of the world, one day at a time. Partly.

Oh Great - Break More Cool and Useful Technology (2)

Compulawyer (318018) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377512)

Now how am I going to skip commercials? Doesn't TiVo use the volume difference to determine where the commercials begin and end?

Nice in theory, but... (2)

pclminion (145572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377592)

Sounds good, but how do you define "volume?" Peak decibels? RMS power of the signal? Average volume? Can I insert a few seconds of silence at the end to balance out a huge burst of noise at the beginning? Does frequency matter? Instead of using more volume, can I just shift my commercial up an octave to get around the restriction?

AWFUL SUMMARY (5, Informative)

Scareduck (177470) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377614)

The FCC is implementing a law passed by Congress. The FCC did not "pass" anything.

Re:AWFUL SUMMARY (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378076)

The FCC is implementing a law passed by Congress. The FCC did not "pass" anything.

Unlike slashdot, which is passing mountains of excrement these days.

Re:AWFUL SUMMARY (1)

snowgirl (978879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378282)

The FCC is implementing a law passed by Congress. The FCC did not "pass" anything.

This. I was waiting on the law, which was passed earlier this year, to go into effect. I wasn't aware that it was just the time for the FCC to enact a policy about it, which itself would take a year to actually come into enforcement. :(

Commercials, yes.. (3, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377624)

Sirius has become as bad as broadcast radio in adopting the same sh_tty BOOM, WHOOSH & BAM intros to commercials. Who, besides 5 year-olds is impressed with this junk, anyway? I listen to a radio show and then BOOOM <sunday sunday sunday-guy voice>You're listening to ___ on Sirius __(channel name)__</sunday sunday sunday-guy voice> It would be great of FCC insists those stupid things were toned down as well.

GAH! (1)

hipp5 (1635263) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377628)

Fucking. Hate. Forced. Acronyms.

Re:GAH! (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377764)

Fucking. Hate. Forced. Acronyms.

Hipp5, the Generated Acronym Hater!

Re:GAH! (1)

Quirkz (1206400) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377938)

The FHFA (pronounced fuh-fuh) society totally agrees with you, but nobody else respects them because they can't get past laughing at the "fuh-fuh" sound.

Never fear (3, Insightful)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377646)

Advertisers view laws, rules, and common decency as damage and will do their best to route around it.

Re:Never fear (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378006)

Advertisers view laws, rules, and common decency as damage and will do their best to route around it.

Yet another opportunity to drag the poor, abused 'Freedom of Speech' out for another turn on the rack.

Re:Never fear (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378286)

Advertisers should have a bomb implanted at the base of their skull, and the minute they betray any sociopathic tendency, KABOOM!

Nonsense Summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38377658)

Agencies can pass acts now? CALM was passed by Congress (last I checked the legislature in the United States) back in 2008 and the FCC has adopted rules called for by the act after a period of public comment.

TFA is wrong: FCC doesn't pass laws (5, Informative)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377708)

Tuesday, the FCC passed the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act, or CALM.

Wrong. Congress passed the 2010 Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act and it was signed by the President on December 15, 2010, a year ago tomorrow.

What the FCC did yesterday [fcc.gov] was to adopt rules restricting loud commercials, as it was required to under the CALM Act, which will become effective one year after adoption, on December 13, 2012.

Obligatory Carl Sagan reference (1)

dsrg (993878) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377760)

Does this mean that the Adnix module by S.R Hadden no longer will work?

Nitpick: FCC can't pass laws (2)

mkraft (200694) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377762)

Nitpick:

The FCC can't pass laws or "acts" (which aren't "passed" anyway). Only Congress can pass bills which become laws when signed by the President (or via a veto override). The FCC has regulatory power over broadcast networks based on the mandates given to it by Congress, and has the power to levy fines, but it can't enact laws. There's a grey area when it comes to non-broadcast stations and cable companies, but usually they comply.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Communications_Commission#Regulatory_powers_and_enforcement [wikipedia.org]

MOD PARENT DOWN! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38378178)

Mod parent down because it isn't a nitpick. It's the EXACT truth.
 
Props to mkraft for pointing this out though. Captcha: hubris

Uhhh... (1)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377892)

Uhhh...this is stupid.

So now, the newscasts will simply be much louder then all the other content.

Hey, what's that over there!?

Station IDs (3, Insightful)

Flere Imsaho (786612) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377906)

What about banning those annoying-as-fuck translucent station IDs, especially the animated ones?

Passed on Tuesday? (1)

Shinu (1196897) | more than 2 years ago | (#38377996)

Wasn't this passed like a year ago? I've been waiting for effect to take place since then.
All you naysayers: Try watching any movie on FX on a not-so-new box.

SURround soUND (2)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378030)

Commercials in surround sound are just as annoying as loud commercials.
They'll intentionally bounce the sound around all over the 5.1/7.1 channels so you can't ignore it.

How to measure loudness (5, Informative)

steveha (103154) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378052)

Since this is Slashdot, I'll share some details on the problem of measuring loudness.

Loudness is difficult to measure objectively, because loudness is what a human experiences when listening to audio. Intensity, on the other hand, is easy to measure; just get a sound level meter [wikipedia.org] .

Why is loudness different than intensity? Because the human auditory system contains a natural filterbank that divides incoming audio up into multiple bands, and then applies an exponential scaling function to each band. Old books and papers call these bands critical bands [wikipedia.org] ; I think the more modern concept is ERBs [wikipedia.org] .

For sounds that hit only one band, such as a pure sine tone, the intensity of the sound is a good approximation of loudness. But sounds that hit multiple bands scale roughly linearly in the number of bands hit. I'll give an example.

If you generate a pure sine tone at power level X, and then generate two sine tones each at power level X/2, then the measured intensity will be identical. However, if the two sine tones are in different bands, the loudness will be nearly double.

So, as a rule of thumb, the more frequency bands a given sound hits, the louder it is at any given power level. Something that sounds like white noise will be louder than something that sounds like a clear bell tone or a single flute note.

The people who make commercials know how to game the system. I'm pretty sure that there were already limits on measured intensity of commercials, but that wasn't enough to solve the problem.

Imagine you are driving along, listening to a radio show. Maybe talk radio, maybe NPR, whatever. You have the "volume control" knob on your car radio set to a comfortable listening level. The radio show only has audio at typical human speech frequencies, and isn't trying to sound loud. Now comes the commercial, which smears its audio all over the spectrum; it puts processing on the voice, with reverb and stuff. "Sunday Sunday Sunday-y-y-y!!!! M-m-monster truck demolition derby!!!" or whatever. It's not your imagination, it really is louder. But a sound level meter might say it's the same as the radio show content, or only slightly higher intensity level.

The company for which I work (DTS) has a solution to the problem called "Neural Loudness Control", and there is a white paper [harris.com] available that really goes into detail about this stuff, so you don't need to stop with my lame explanation. NLC has a full "loudness model" that approximates the human auditory system when computing a loudness metric; but it also can operate in a mode that follows the new standard.

Also, here's a PowerPoint presentation by JJ Johnston about loudness vs. intensity [aes.org] .

So the new standard, 1770 [itu.int] , is a pretty easy-to-calculate approximation of loudness. You apply two filters: one that simulates the transfer function of an average human head, and the "RLB weighting curve"; then compute mean-square energy on the result. This is simple enough that nobody really has an excuse in the 21st Century that it would be hard to comply.

I'm a little worried that it is too simple, and there might be ways to trick it. For example, it doesn't seem to handle audio that is smeared across multiple bands to make it sound louder. But I'm not actually working in the area of loudness measurement, and from what I've heard, 1770 works okay for most stuff. It's better than no standard.

And on the gripping hand, 1770 is the law now.

steveha

Re:How to measure loudness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38378238)

See? If you hadn't included your name, your comment wouldn't have stretched to more than one page.

fails on cable providers so what about HBO (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378060)

that does not have any ad's (under then HBO own ad's) and cable does not do insertion on all channels

Now apply it to the internet (1)

pgward (2086802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38378274)

When will website ads be forced to contain the same contrast ratio's as the rest of the website? Electric green on black, flashing an inverted palette, is visually louder than the main content!
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