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:
- Go to this page and scroll down until you see the link for the Broadcasting interventions/comments form. We can’t provide a direct link here because you’re required to agree to a statement before proceeding to the form itself.
- Write to the Secretary General, CRTC, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0N2, with the following subject line: “Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2011-102”
- Do the same thing but submit via fax at 819-994-0218