Here’s a modifed version of what I wrote last year on this topic:
You know how some commercials are irritatingly louder than the program you’ve been watching?
Effective today, that should be a thing of the past.
Rules that require broadcasters to keep commercials at comparable volume to programming sailed through the Federal Communications Commission a year ago 4-0.
While TV commercials are a necessary evil — helping to pay for the programming people receive on most networks — many viewers find loud commercials a major annoyance.
“This is an issue that people care about, that consumers care about,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said before the vote to Bloomberg News. “We have received thousands of complaints about TV commercials that come on much louder than the programming around it.”
Broadcasters are bracing themselves to find out what their potential liabilities are.
The Congressional Budget Office estimated this will cost each cable operator and TV station up to $20,000 in special equipment to comply with the order.
Complaints about ear-piercing commercials have been common for decades but escalated after broadcasters were required to switch from analog to digital in 2009, said David Unsworth, senior vice president of satellite and technical operations for DG, an Dallas-based company that delivers ads from agencies to broadcasters. (The company’s primary data center is in Roswell.)
“In the analog world, too much loudness caused distortion,” Unsworth said.”But with digital, you can get louder without that problem.”
Advertisers, especially in this age of DVRs, want their commercials to be noticed. “There’s definitely a loudness war,” Unsworth said. “Everybody wants to be louder than the guy next to them.”.
For Chamblee IT executive Rhonda Gregson, after her kids go to sleep, “if I am not right on top of the remote, the volume of the commercials (not the show) sometimes wakes them up,” she wrote on the AJC Radio and TV Facebook page. “This is a big pet peeve of mine!
Chris Roland, a Conyers project engineer, normally isn’t a fan of government regulation but can accept this one. He has a six-year-old daughter and is especially aware of the volume differential on the Disney Channel.
“I notice it a lot more if it’s kid oriented,” Roland said. “Maybe it’s to get their attention.” But even with programing targeting adults, “it’s almost like a smack in my face. I’m sitting here minding my own business, then my TV gets so loud. It’s ridiculous!”
But for people who prefer to watch television programs online, you’re out of luck: on-line streaming services such as Hulu, which often require people to watch ads, are not affected by the regulation.