Are TV ads too loud? The CRTC thinks so and wants to know if you agree


Nothing makes me reach for the remote control faster than when the barely-audible dialogue of an older show suddenly switches to the overpowering voice-over for a laundry detergent. Sometimes I drop the volume down only to raise it later when the ads come to an end, but mostly I just hit the mute button. Take that, loud, annoying ads. Ugh. There’s got to be a better way.

After years of essentially doing nothing, the CRTC is no longer ignoring an issue that has been a thorn in the side of TV viewers for ages: The sometimes dramatic difference between the volume level of the programme being watched and the commercials that air during the programme.

The commission announced today that they are seeking comment on “possible technical and regulatory measures that would ensure commercials are not perceived to be louder than the programs they accompany.”

“Loud ads on television can disrupt an otherwise enjoyable program and are a source of significant annoyance for Canadians,” said Konrad von Finckenstein, Q.C., Chairman of the CRTC in a press release. “Viewers should not have to adjust the volume at every commercial break, and we will work with the broadcasting industry to find an acceptable solution.”

I can only hope that this isn’t empty rhetoric on the part of the CRTC. Nothing would make me happier than being able to watch TV without constantly riding the volume control, or shelling out big bucks for an after-market solution like Geffen’s Auto Volume Stabilizer.

You would think that there would already be some sort of standard for an issue as widespread as this, and you’d be right: the ATSC (Advanced Television Systems Committee) created just such a standard back in November of 2009. The CRTC is well aware of this and is using this standard as the starting point of their public consultation.

As the process evolves, they are hoping to get feedback from all parties on:

  • how broadcasters currently control the loudness of commercials
  • the technical changes, as well as associated costs and practical implications, that would be required to implement the Advanced Television Systems Committee’s recommended practice
  • the appropriate timeframe in which any changes should be implemented
  • possible regulatory changes required to ensure the effective control of the loudness of commercials, and
  • the extent to which technical and regulatory changes are applicable to cable and satellite companies and video-on-demand services.
  • There’s not much time if you want to make your views heard (you may have to shout) – the deadline for submissions is April 18, 2011.

    You have three options for contacting the CRTC and sharing your thoughts:

    Read the full release from the CRTC.

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    131 comments

    1. cherdav

      I have been saying they are to loud for years so I don’t watch them anymore ,thanks to my PVR I tape everything I watch so I can fast forward through all the commercials . Problem solved

      Like

    2. Bill

      Okay I can’t agree anymore then with you folks, those f@#$king stations are allowing this to happen – Why ? money !!! Do you know a 1/2 show is only 17 min”s the rest is advertising at 16 decimals. Ya your right folks I don’t what much TV but when I do I mute those things FAST, there not selling me!
      CRTC good f@#$king luck, you’ve nothing in thae past !!!!!!

      Like

    3. cherdav

      If you delete the commercials and watch a 1 hour program is any where from 20 to 30 minutes long with out the commercials . What a waste of money that is as nobody watches or listens to them anyway . Thats my time when Im not fast forwarding them to take a washroom break or get a snack . So the advertisers loose anyway

      Like

    4. Rob

      There are MUCH bigger and more important things the CRTC is contemplating, such as allowing news broadcasters to start outright lying in their news reports. Don’t believe me? Google “CRTC and lies” and see for yourself how many reputable news outlets are covering this.

      Commercials blasting their cheap wares at full volume are annoying to be sure, but I’d much rather deal with the mute button than live in a society that is kept informed by lies. This little matter is red-herring and makes for a nice little distraction.

      Like

    5. Rod

      That is why God said “let there be PVR” and there was PVR. Although if you are forced to watch live television, then I must agree that those annoying commercials are indeed over the top in terms of sound volume.
      It would be nice to think that the CRTC would actually effect some changes to the standards currently being observed. Whether it happens is another issue entirely, as this is a plague that affects broadcasts on both American and Canadian stations. I don’t know that the CRTC has the ability/power to do anything with US network feeds-but it would certainly be a godsend if they could. I say do your best to clear up these noisy, overbearing, and often times downright obnoxious pieces of advertising.

      Like

    6. kevin

      its about time i would like to have the program the same volumes as the adds then you are not constantly grabbing the remote to keep from disturbing every one in the building cause the adds are drowing out the sounds of the whole world

      Like

    7. Ray

      It’s about time that some regulatory power step in and do something about the ever fluctuating volume brought on by comercials. Sure it’s easy to adjust the volume everytime or for that matter “mute” it by using the remote, however, why should I have to. What really burns me however, is the fact that if you want your voice heard, you must adddress your concerns to CRTC by filing out their form which requires your personal info such as, Name, Address, email etc. which becomes Public knowledge and leaves you wide open for scammers, phishers etc. Thanks but NO THANKS
      You would think that after listening to the latest news about Chinese hackers trying to access Government files, that they would be more diligent about posting your personal info.

      Like

      • oaky1950

        Ray, You are right. Well said !! The Govt cant keep its secrets locked away without hackers. They want all our info just to make a complaint. Why not go all the way and ask for our S.I.N .OOps, I better retract that idea.

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    8. oaky1950

      Annoying!!
      Sorry CTV,and CTV owned networks, I find you are the biggest culprit. I stopped watching half of it especially the commercials during the news are the worst. All these talking heads on a lot of program openings are just as bad. I dont like being YELLED at. I might be old but Im not deaf. I refuse to buy a product if they yell at me !!!
      Hey, if my hearing becomes impaired maybe I should get a lawyer..LOL
      Oh, Im Canadian not American.

      Like

    9. Steve

      The problem is a serious one and seems to be getting worse. I hope that the CRTC does something effective, but one thing that will definitely work is to write complaints to the companies whose ads are the most offensive. A few emails telling them you are going to stop using their product until they stop invading your home will work wonders.

      Like

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    11. Dees

      I can remember my father, years back, asking to lower the volume when commercials came on. Today I ask my kids to mute as it is the most annoying moment to have to listen to advertisement in such a loud manner.
      I do not understand why sound levels cannot be controlled, what I mean is ”standardized volume levels for commercials”. If the CRTC realized this, may be it would be worthwhile for everyone to watch commercials. Who knows if my dad will see the CRTC come to an end with this volume saga for commercials

      Like

    12. Katherine

      My husband and I have been complaining for a long time now about how the TV ads come blasting on. With the technology these days that’s available it should be set automatically to stay at the same leven as the programs. My old video camera automatically controls the changes in volume so I would certainly think the TV stations could do the same.

      I also find it overpoweringly annoying to be watching an ad or a program with action and talking going on and the (so-called background music) is so loud you can’t concentrate on what’s being said.

      Like

    13. Randy

      I have been fighting Shaw Direct for weeks about LOUD COMMERCIAL for the HUNTERS on National Geographic Channel that they insert on CNN Satellite.
      They tell me they can’t do anything about it… Yeah????

      Well… I am going to keep after them until they are forced to.

      Come on CRTC.. let’s regulate the volume of Commercials like the USA does….

      Shaw Direct is do insensitive to our complaints.
      My house has a Quadriplegic who cannot control the volume & I really am concerned for her hearing & the damage to my sound system.

      Come on Shaw…lets not wait to be regulated… TURN DOWN THE VOLUME!!!!

      Like

    14. Randy

      I have been fighting Shaw Direct for weeks now because of the LOUD COMMERCIAL for the HUNTERS on National Geographic Channel, they insert into CNN on the Satellite Service.

      They tell me they cannot do anything about it.

      With my spouse being a Quadriplegic, she cannot control the volume & I reall, fear for her hearing & the damage to my speakers.

      Come on CRTC…lets regulate them, since they have no morals to regulate themselves.

      Why should we have to put up with this… Regulate them like they do in the USA>

      Like

    15. Deb

      Personally I’m tired of adjusting the volumn for commercials .. so I just ‘mute’ the TV .. it’s time the advertising companies realized how much money they are wasting .. millions. I don’t need to be yelled at by a TV ad. AND why do they always put personal hygiene product commercials on at dinner time .. not necessary .. disgusting.

      Like

    16. Steve

      So the CRTC will only start looking out for Canadians when they demand that it gets abolished because of their brainless internet ruling? Looks like we should either abolish it or threaten to start abolishing a lot of other government departments.

      Like

    17. Al

      It’s not only the volume, it’s the fast talking. Both combined make for the most annoying commercials and the absolute worst offenders are the automakers trying to sell pickup trucks. All of them are guilty and none of them make real trucks – real trucks have 10 wheels.

      Like

    18. Oscar

      I agree that something should be done about the decibal level. I also wish to draw attention to the tv stations all having their commercials at the same time for a duration of 5-7 minutes each. I can only view one programme at a time while I am charged for 200 channels. Does not make sense. Very frustrating. This should also be looked at by the CRTC.

      Like

    19. F.J. Roos

      I’m 73 and have a strong hearing aid because I’m rather hard of hearing. To watch television, I use subtext (which often is of dubious quality and too fast-moving) and turn my aid up high to help me hear at least some of the audio.
      Unfortunately, many commercials are so loud that, unless I quickly turn my hearing aid down, they almost blow my my brain. Together with broadcast background noise such as music, it’s so discouraging that I often give up and turn off the television.
      The CTV national news, in a little Friday night feature called “Ask Us”, would have us believe last year that the problem with loud commercials is caused by volume DENSITY not increased volume. If that’s the problem, then please make the broadcasters reduce that density.
      I know that the next generations are addicted to loudness, but that only means they will turn deaf prematurely. For their sake, if not for mine, PLEASE MAKE THE IDIOTS TURN DOWN! Fred, Waterloo, ON

      Like

    20. steve

      I do like how the issue now is “perceived volume”, as the actual decibels don’t really spike in commercials. Advertisements often have music layered with sound effect and voiceovers, where the program is likely mostly dialogue sprinkled with brief music soundups. So the commercials are likely at peak volume throughout, where the program only reaches peak volume from time to time, making the ads sound way louder by comparison.

      I bet the CTRC will run into a pretty tough time instructing the broadcasters on how exactly to achieve matching perceived volume. It’s all by ear….

      Like

    21. Dianne

      From what I am told (I studied recording engineering a few years back) – commercials are not “louder” – the sound is compressed so it is more direct and feels louder – the same way that sound travels through a horn or megaphone. The volume is not technically “louder” apparently, but the effect is there… obviously.

      Like

      • Randy

        Yeah right Diane….. I challenge you to sit through the HUNTERS Commercial for National Geographic on CNN Channel. This Commercial is inserted by Shaw Direct.

        After complaining a lot to Shaw… they taped the commercial & admitted that is is “WAY TOO LOUD”. They have also told me that they are being deluged with complaints about this Commercial Volume. They have submitted it to Shaw Broadcast..for whatever good that will do. I mean, how complicated is it to just “PULL THE COMMERCIAL, after all it is THEM who are inserting it.

        This is not SOUND COMPRESSION… it’s just DAMN LOUD.

        Everyone make sure you send your complaints to CRTC & a email to grewan@parl.gc.ca M.P. for Fleetwood Port-Kells. She is sponsoring a Private Members Bill to curb COMMERCIAL VOLUMEW. Also send a copy to your own M.P.

        Like

    22. Bernice Nelson

      I absoutely agree that the volume on commercials should be lowered – it will not lower sales – the loud ads are extremely annoying and so they get muted and I pay no attention to them. Stop the loud ads!!!!

      Like

    23. Frank Currie

      I am relieved that at last the CRTC is considering legislation to control the noise of Ads on T.V. I find it quite distressing and troublesome to have to mute the T.V. so often. C.B.C. seems generally to control it better than other broadcasters.I vote to have controls introduced.

      Like

    24. JEFF

      I agree with all the other complainants that the commercials are both loud and annoying…But heres another pet peave of mine. Remember in the “old days” before cable and satellite TV, when the stations had to include ads in order to pay for the programming? Today the cable and satellite TV providers get the subscriber to pay and the advertiser? To me
      that is double dipping and gouging. I should not have to pay such high costs for TV programming and then be subjected to loud annoying repetitious brainwashing…..Hey, and what about those awful high fat fast food adds just before mealtime or late in the evening??

      Like

    25. Les S

      Yes, I agree, TV commercials are too loud, and, yes, I think they should be regulated! Having been in the communications business for years, I know that this is part of the ‘attention-getting’ strategy used by broadcasters and advertising/commercial designers – but enough is enough!! I could not believe one of the latest ‘Wendy’s’ commercials where they actually use an ‘air horn’ to even further raise the decibel rating – how annoying!!!

      Like

    26. Brian "Hoot" Gibson

      Finally, a potential end of the dash to the volume controller with every TV commercial. The mills of the Gods do grind slowly as I have been thoroughly and completely frustrated by this issue for an interminable length of time. Has anyone posed the question, “why is this necessary?” . What puzzles me, is the de facto acceptance of the advertiser of this technological nightmare that serves only to infuriate the viewer when a given product INTRUDES on their sonic landscape. Enough. I promise to give the advertiser my rapt attention if they promise to turn down the volume.

      Sincerely
      Brian “Hoot” Gibson

      Like

    27. RJ

      I scrolled through a lot of comments, did anyone actually think the ads are NOT too loud? Didn’t think so. So the CRTC is just wasting time and money asking us if were on board with the obvious and that they MAY do something about it, my guess would be shortly after it becomes law in the US.

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      • Randy

        RJ, I do believe that it already is law in the U.S. There was an article in the Edmonton Journal the other day that indicated the U.S. has such a law enacted already.

        Like

    28. Wayne Palmer

      I would appreciate it if the CRTC would take action on reducing the commercial volumes to the same level as the regular program volume levels.

      I live in a condo, and I have neighbors in an adjoining unit. Volume levels just blare during commercials, which does what its suppose to do…it gets my attention, and probably the neighbors too.

      This excess volume during commercials is annoying and should be stopped. You don’t have to agitate me to get me to buy something. In fact, agitation usually has the opposite effect on me.

      CRTC, please get off your duff, and do something about these excess volume levels during commercials.

      Like

    29. R.A.R.

      IF YOU THINK THE CRTC WILL DO ANYTHING ABOUT LOUD ADS. THEN I HAVE PROPERTY TO SELL IN TIM BUCK TOO. ANYWAY I AGREE THAT THESE VOLUMN INCREASED AD’S ARE INTENTIONALY PLANNED BY THE SATATION JUST TO WAKE US UP FROM OUR LITTLE CAT NAPS. I TO MUTE OR CHANGE CHANNELS.

      Like

    30. WINandLIN

      I say we all go Egypt on the Government, and demand the useless, corrupt CRTC fraudsters out of the government permanently.

      Like

    31. jennifer ralph

      WE. HATE. HAVING. TO. ADJUST. THE. VOLUME. SEVERAL. TIMES. PER. SHOW. IT IS ANNOYNG, UNNECESSARY AND WE BELIEVE IT SHOULD BE OUTLAWED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Like

    32. peter wedel

      I guess the CRTC does not have a decibel meter or dont know what that is! Lets fire them all and show all cable companies and TV station some teeth! Too bad we are so brain washed to watch TV to no end.

      Like

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    34. Carl Heywood

      It seems elementary that there should be a maximum volume limit on ALL broadcasts.
      This applies ESPECIALLY to CBC radio, which is what I listen to.
      The volume level should especially apply to talk shows with musical fillers.
      One example: I love DNTO radio broadcasts, and turn up the volume to hear
      the talk part, then BLAM comes a musical filler that has me running to turn down the radio!!
      Keep the music down, and the dialogue up!

      The volume level on commercials applies to CBC’s own ads for other programs!!

      Like

    35. Randy

      Just to let you all know… Don’t give up the faith. It does pay to be vocal & complain…. All my issues with Shaw Direct Satellite regarding the HEAD HUNTERS LOUD Commercials on CNN, implanted by Shaw Direct…. that were so LOUD, I actually feared for the well being of my speakers…never mind the occupants of our household.

      Let me tell you… THEY HAVE PULLED THE ADS.

      That is in spite of them telling me that they couldn’t do anything about it.

      Still do not give up… make sure you do lodge a complaint with the CRTC & tell them you want the regulation implemented.

      Like

    36. Marcelle F. Cloutier

      I agree wholeheartedly that the volume level on tv commercials should be lowered to be exactly at the same level as the movie or show we are watching. I am really sick and tired of reaching for the remote to lower the volume and have always wondered as to why CRTC does not do something about this. I am certainly not driven to watch the commercials when I just want to keep lowering the volume.

      I also have another comment. Whey do we have the very same commercial two or three times in a row, consecutively to make us want so much that we want to throw up! Do they not realize that if we have seen it once, that is enough in the space of two minutes, never mind three times.

      Anyway, I think you get my point… please do something to lower the volume.

      Like

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    38. CCB

      TV Commercials are definitely TOO LOUD!!!! When I visit my parents, I seriously become anxious because of the T.V. volumes. I must say, compared to most, they do watch TV at a much louder level due to progressive hearing loss. But… when the commercial comes on every 5 minutes at a much louder volume, it irritates them too. I’m sure this has negative effects on our hearing no matter how old we are. It certainly doesn’t benefit anyone, so why even ask if we think it’s too loud? It’s obvious don’t you think?

      Why would it be acceptable for industries to invade our environment by loud and obnoxious commercials while safety commissions promotes prevention & control of environmental hazards. They ask employees to wear hearing protectors to reduce the workplace noise level and prevent deafness. They also suggest, if noise exposure is intermittent ear muffs should be worn. So I guess the mute button is an option, but who wouldn’t prefer a stabilized volume?

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    39. steve

      I have heard rumblings about this change to correct the annoying volumn increase from programmes and commercials.It’s very true, that it occurs and for what ever reason you believe. It is rediculous and as an experienced home recordist I have given up one of my studio compressors for the last few years in order to tame this aggrivation. It works fine but we should not have to do this to enjoy our televisions at home!
      A compressor for those who are unaware is a commonly used signal processor used in recording music, radio and television broadcasting. It levels the overall volumn of the audio program to make it smooth for the listener. It cuts off those annoying peaks of sound, in the audio, that bother the ears! Perhaps the TV makers of the world should add them into their products. It would not be that expensive for a consumer grade application and can be easily simulated using digital technology.

      Like

    40. Peter Wedel

      Hello,
      Mosdt Noirth American Companies do what ever they like, they will not tune down the commercials because they want sales and in a way this works for them.
      I watch much less TV and dont care anymore, maybe get rid of TV altogether!
      Good Luck, the system is crooked! peter Wedel

      Like

    41. Wayne Palmer

      This loud noise in commercials has continued for an extremely long time without any control from the CRTC. I feel that the CRTC should control this constant noise irritation from broadcasters. CRTC: If you don’t control the noise, in my opinion, you are failing to do your job. I don’t know of anyone who is not ticked off with this constant noise irritation during commercials. I set the levels on my volume, and the volume should remain constant, not jumping up during commercials because broadcasters want you to pay attention to their commercials.

      CRTC, please get off your duff, and do your job.

      Like

    42. Beauty

      It has been taking so long but sadly it is going to take a little longer for the commercials to lower down the volume. I just don’t plan on waiting until December to stop this madness. I am getting the new Hopper from DISH so that I can have that awesome feature that levels out the commercials volume. As a customer and employee I did get to test it out and it really works, so be sure to check it out yourself.

      Like