Tagged: broadcast

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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    A Royal Wedding in 3D?

    In this Nov. 16, 2010 file photo, Britain's Prince William and his fiancee Kate Middleton are seen at St. James's Palace in London, after they announced their engagement. London is a sure bet for crowds around the April 29 wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, file)

    In this Nov. 16, 2010 file photo, Britain's Prince William and his fiancee Kate Middleton are seen at St. James's Palace in London, after they announced their engagement. London is a sure bet for crowds around the April 29 wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. (c) AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, file

    I was recently pitched a story idea by a PR agency on why people should buy a new big-screen TV for the Big Game  – the SuperBowl of course. But unless you’re still watching an old tube-TV that can’t manage HD of any description, your existing HDTV will be just fine for the most-televised sporting event of the year. That’s because – much to my surprise – the event is not being covered in 3D. If someone knows why, please leave a comment below.

    But the same might not be true of another big event that will be gracing our screens later this year: The Royal Wedding of William and Kate, which if the persistent rumours are true, will be broadcast in 3D.

    I know – I can already hear some of you groaning – but a 3D broadcast of the wedding makes a lot of sense. Royal watchers, of which there are plenty here in Canada, go to great lengths to be near the monarchy at these occasions and I know of at least one fan who already has her tickets booked to be there in person. But the majority of people will have to attend virtually. As the National Post has already pointed out, it would be very cool to see a location like Westminster Abbey in 3D.

    Apart from giving monarchists the illicit thrill of “being there”, a 3D wedding broadcast could also help a fledgling industry gather valuable data in the form of viewer feedback on the pros and cons of this type of coverage. With 3D being so new to so many TV stations, there is plenty left to learn. James Cameron is adamant that the only 3D movies worth watching are the ones that were conceived of and executed specifically for the 3D format – anything less doesn’t measure up. If it’s true for movies, it’s probably true for TV too.

    The Royal Wedding could also be a huge boon to television manufacturers. A lack of decent 3D content has long been cited as one the primary reasons why consumers have been slow to adopt 3D at home – though frankly I think there are many other factors at play. But if that is what has kept people from jumping on the bandwagon, I can’t think of many televised events – with the exception of the usual sports biggies (World Cup Soccer, SuperBowl and the Olympics) – that would beat a Royal Wedding for driving people into their local electronics retailer.

    Interestingly, if the wedding does go all Avatar on us, there’s the possibility it will be shown in 3D-capable movie theatres for those who don’t own 3D TVs. With a projected audience of over a billion viewers, TV makers won’t be the only ones profiting from this event.

    What do you think readers? Is a 3D broadcast of the wedding a good idea? If you don’t own a 3D TV, would this be a good enough reason to buy one? Let us know.

    Update Feb 18: According to RoyalWeddingBlog.ca, the young couple have formally rejected the idea of 3D coverage for their wedding citing concerns about how much technology would need to be present at the event to make it happen.

    Masters golf tournament first national Canadian 3D broadcast

    tiger-woods-3DIf you’re one of the few in Canada who have bravely stepped up to become an early adopter of the new 3D-capable HDTVs that just hit retail shelves, we’ve got some good news. Bell TV will be airing rounds three and four of the 2010 Masters Tournament in 3D HD this weekend.

    The 3D feed, which is originating from Augusta, Georgia via Comcast’s network and being distributed internationally, will be broadcast in commercial-free 3D HD from 5 pm to 7 pm ET on Saturday, April 10 and Sunday, April 11.

    The broadcast will be free to Bell TV’s HD subscribers and viewable on channel 1000. Bell TV’s HD receivers are already 3D-ready, so the only extra equipment you’ll need is a 3D-capable TV and compatible 3D glasses. In case you’re wondering how well golf on TV translates into 3D, BusinessWeek reports that industry analysts who had a chance to preview the experience “claim the technology translates well to golf, due to the wide-open, outdoor setting of the sport and the noticeable variations in course topography.”

    Disclosure: Sync is owned and operated by Bell Canada