Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Loud TV Commercials?

It's not in your head.

The commercials really do sound louder than the tv show you were watching seconds ago.

But do we need the government to intervene? This is from USA Today:

A bill introduced By Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., aims to turn down the volume on loud commercials. It would direct the FCC to enact new rules within a year requiring that television ads not be excessively noisy.

“Most Americans are not overjoyed to watch television commercials, but they are willing to tolerate them to sustain free over-the-air television," Eshoo says. "What annoys all of us is the sudden increase of volume when commercials are aired."

Adonis Hoffman, senior vice president and general counsel of the American Association of Advertising Agencies tells Broadcasting & Cable magazine that he suspects the FCC may already have the authority to intervene. If not, he says, the advertising industry "would want to be a part of the process and certainly would comply with the new rules.”

However, it's important to understand why the ads sound louder. This is from the comment section of this story:

What the congresswoman and most viewers don't understand is that the volume on commercials isn't actually higher than the volume on the shows. It's all in how the audio is processed during production.

When a television program is being post-produced, the producers allow for a lot more dynamic range (from loud to soft sound) in the program content. This is done for dramatic purposes. In the commercial production world, dynamic range compression is used to increase the density of the sound. It's not loudness...it's apparent loudness caused by the lack of dynamics.

There is not some evil intent on the part of the networks or the advertisers. It's that audio for commercials and audio for dramatic content are processed differently. There is no way to legislate the volume on this content. It's all hitting 100% on the meters, but the commercials stay up around 100% while the programming has much more dynamic range.

That's why there's a mute button on your remote, and an off button too! I would suggest you use that before supporting useless legislation.

In case you're wondering why I know this...I've been an audio producer for 30 years.

Read the rest by clicking here.

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