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Advertising Government Television

Senate Votes To Turn Down Volume On TV Commercials 625

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the dear-god-yes-please dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Ever since television caught on in the 1950s, the FCC has been getting complaints about blaring commercials but concluded in 1984 there was no fair way to write regulations controlling the 'apparent loudness' of commercials. Now the AP reports that the Senate has unanimously passed a bill to require television stations and cable companies to keep commercials at the same volume as the programs they interrupt using industry guidelines on how to process, measure and transmit audio in a uniform way. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), a co-sponsor, says it's time to stop the use of loud commercials to startle viewers into paying attention. 'TV viewers should be able to watch their favorite programs without fear of losing their hearing when the show goes to a commercial.' The House has already passed similar legislation, so before the new measure becomes law, minor differences between the two versions have to be worked out when Congress returns to Washington after the November 2 election."
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Senate Votes To Turn Down Volume On TV Commercials

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  • It's almost as if (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tekrat (242117) on Friday October 01, 2010 @10:03AM (#33758218) Homepage Journal

    Congress was working for the people... Is this some kind of sick joke meant to lull us into thinking that every congressman isn't in the pockets of big business? Hrrrmm. It's getting near election time, that must be it...

  • Bit Mental (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mike Mentalist (544984) on Friday October 01, 2010 @10:03AM (#33758228) Homepage
    Does this sort of thing really need to have the law getting involved? It's only a small irritant.

    Is it a bit of deflection from the real issues that are going on at the moment?
  • Re:Bit Mental (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jra (5600) on Friday October 01, 2010 @10:06AM (#33758270)

    Certainly, this is grandstanding. Just like 75% of what comes off the hill.

  • by hsmith (818216) on Friday October 01, 2010 @10:11AM (#33758336)
    They can't pass a fucking budget, the ONE THING we need them to do, but they can legislate tv volume. Awesome.
  • Uncharacteristic: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by boneclinkz (1284458) on Friday October 01, 2010 @10:11AM (#33758338)
    Normally I'm pretty apathetic about political nonsense, but something about this story enrages me. This is just so unbelievably frivolous, but it sure will play well to the average voter who probably watches 40 hours of television a week and strongly agrees with the statement that "TV viewers should be able to watch their favorite programs without fear of losing their hearing when the show goes to a commercial."

    It's not that I'm especially fond of advertisers, it's just that I have trouble acknowledging a world where ANYBODY GIVES A FUCK about this "issue".
  • Bigger fish to fry (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 01, 2010 @10:12AM (#33758346)

    I'm so glad the congress took time off from wrecking the economy to fix this huge problem!

  • Ban the use of sirens in radio commercials to get attention. I don't know how many times I heard one in a commercial and the natural reaction is to start looking for the ambulance or fire truck or police car.
  • Rest Easy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by smitty777 (1612557) on Friday October 01, 2010 @10:14AM (#33758394) Journal

    Now I can rest easy, knowing that the folks in charge are focusing on the really important matters. It was just last night, I was jolted out of a nap in front of some program on global warming or something by an ad for American Idol...

  • Re:Bit Mental (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 01, 2010 @10:15AM (#33758404)

    Does this sort of thing really need to have the law getting involved? It's only a small irritant.

    Is it a bit of deflection from the real issues that are going on at the moment?

    I was going to try to write this preemptively, but slashdot idiocy prevails...

    A) This is a problem, and potentially a safety issue as well. As more and more people use (ear|head)(buds|phones), the insane relative loudness will certainly contribute to very premature hearing loss. (Ever watch 24, the commercials were easily 20+ dBa louder than the program; if 75 dBa is comfortable, abruptly switching to 95 dBa is startling at least, and likely damaging, even for the brief period prior to hitting mute or fast-forward).

    B) The industry has had decades to regulate itself; the government has so far exercised uncharacteristic restraint (something slashdotters are quick to bemoan) in legislating a fix.

  • Re:Smart Sound (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 01, 2010 @10:17AM (#33758448)

    I torrent everything I watch. Commercials are not a problem for me.

  • by davegravy (1019182) on Friday October 01, 2010 @10:18AM (#33758458)

    If the government and powerful corporate higher-ups weren't impacted by the volume issue the same as the rest of us, we wouldn't be seeing this bill. I'm surprised they didn't conceive some way to fix the problem only for themselves.

  • by gblackwo (1087063) on Friday October 01, 2010 @10:18AM (#33758464) Homepage
    I already dropped cable for dsl, netflix, hulu and hd over the air. I am 22, not only does my generation not need landlines, but we don't need cable either.
  • by parkrrrr (30782) on Friday October 01, 2010 @10:18AM (#33758472)

    You mean "Also, the Republicans will...." Fish gotta swim, Republicans gotta screw us, Democrats gotta screw up.

  • Re:Bit Mental (Score:4, Insightful)

    by somersault (912633) on Friday October 01, 2010 @10:19AM (#33758478) Homepage Journal

    A small irritant? Would you like it if your desktop sound effects were far louder than your gaming volume, so every time an alert popped up it scared the hell out of you? That would get old pretty fast. Or how about if the indicators in your car were louder than the radio? Or everyone in the world sounded like Darth Vader when they breathed? Okay that might be cool, but nevertheless.. I can imagine the commercial thing would be very annoying, if I actually watched them.

  • by spiffmastercow (1001386) on Friday October 01, 2010 @10:22AM (#33758520)
    Obviously you don't have children. When you spend 2 hours trying to get your kid to sleep, and then turn on your favorite show while you finally have some down time, the last thing you want is Billy Mays waking your kid up before you can mute the TV.
  • by blueg3 (192743) on Friday October 01, 2010 @10:25AM (#33758570)

    It was sarcasm. :-)

    The summary, of all things, even points out that this proposed legislation is *after* an industry organization published guidelines for exactly how to do this sort of thing.

  • by hedwards (940851) on Friday October 01, 2010 @10:26AM (#33758588)
    Indeed, kind of interesting how the don't call list was engineered to mysteriously not apply to them, same goes for the ban on robocalls. Oddly enough, politicians were among the worst offenders during election season.
  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Friday October 01, 2010 @10:31AM (#33758646) Journal

    >>>I have to master audio

    Please tell your colleagues that the best music uses all or most of a CD's 80 dB volume range, not just the top 5 dB (i.e. avoids volume compression). If your bosses are wondering why CD sales are dropping, it's because there's little point buying a CD that sounds like it was mastered from a 128k MP3 file. Make the CD sound better than an MP3, and we'll buy it. IMHO. A Fan.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 01, 2010 @10:32AM (#33758674)

    You mean "Also, the Republicans will...." Fish gotta swim, Republicans gotta screw us, Democrats gotta screw up.

    "Everyone in Congress is on the same side, and it's not the one you're on"

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Friday October 01, 2010 @10:35AM (#33758710) Journal

    >>>the #STRING will still find some way to fuck it up.

    where #STRING alternates between "Democrats" and "Republicans". Stop wasting your vote on the same D or R screwage. Vote third party. Even if you lose you can brag, "Well I didn't vote for either asshole. Can't blame me."

  • by kgwilliam (998911) on Friday October 01, 2010 @10:36AM (#33758722)

    I have trouble acknowledging a world where ANYBODY GIVES A FUCK about this "issue".

    Perhaps RTFA would help....
    "Ever since television caught on in the 1950s, the Federal Communication Commission has been getting complaints about blaring commercials"

    Granted, that quote only tells you that yes, people do give a fuck about this issue. If you want better data, a quick 30 second internet search returns several links to .... "The telephone survey of 1,000 TV viewers, conducted for Harris Corporation (NYSE: HRS), showed that 89 percent are bothered by the often dramatic variation between regular TV programming and advertising volumes".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 01, 2010 @10:45AM (#33758846)

    They won't get a chance. The Democrats will never bring it to a vote unless it includes massive handouts to unions, media companies, China, and the rest of their pay masters.

  • by mrjatsun (543322) on Friday October 01, 2010 @10:46AM (#33758866)

    Disagree.. It's because most CDs have one or two good songs and the rest are crap. Studios know this. Why do you think studios moved from singles to records in the first place? To make more money...

  • by FriendlyPrimate (461389) on Friday October 01, 2010 @10:49AM (#33758906)
    Really? Loud commercials are a huge pet peeve of me, and I'm sure many others. The media companies do it on purpose (especially any channels from Turner Broadcasting). And their excuse why they wouldn't be able to comply with the law is so laughable that it's insulting. They would have us believe that the technology doesn't exist or is prohibitively expensive/complex to design a circuit to detect and attenuate loud signals. Huh?

    Advertisers want to be as annoying as possible to get your attention. If you don't enact laws to restrict them, you'll end up in a world not unlike what you see in the movie Brazil. I suppose you were also against the do-not-call registry?

    And it's not like this is a 2000 page heath care law. It's a simple law to get rid of an obvious intentional annoyance. Of course it's not a perfect law....a better law would have included a provision to throw offending TV executives into the middle of the ocean. But it's the best system we've got.
  • by Palshife (60519) on Friday October 01, 2010 @10:50AM (#33758922) Homepage

    It's a wildly popular bill with broad bi-partisan support, a true no-brainner. With that said, don't worry, the party in power will still find some way to fuck it up.

    There. FTFY.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 01, 2010 @10:52AM (#33758956)

    The only thing dumber than a Democrat or a Republican is when those pricks work together. You see, in our two-party system, the Democrats are the party of no ideas and the Republicans are the party of bad ideas. It usually goes something like this. A Republican will stand up in Congress and say, "I've got a really bad idea." And a Democrat will immediately jump to his feet and declare, "And I can make it shittier." - Lewis Black

  • by characterZer0 (138196) on Friday October 01, 2010 @11:01AM (#33759120)

    This also cuts out the laugh track, which might make some shows watchable.

  • Re:Bit Mental (Score:3, Insightful)

    by alta (1263) on Friday October 01, 2010 @11:13AM (#33759304) Homepage Journal

    Are you kidding, this is what Politicians think they are PAID TO DO. THIS IS THEIR JOB. /sarcasm

    Look at it this way, say the US was suddenly PERFECT and everyone was COMPLETELY HAPPY with it. We've even mitigated Acts of God, disease, cancer and HIV. Absolutely perfect for everyone, but we still had a bunch of reps, a prez, etc...

    Seeing that our country is PERFECT, then they should have nothing to do. Right? They should just sit around and not create any bills, not put any restrictions on people, life would just go on remaining perfect, save acts of God.

    Well they can't do that. It's not what their JOB is. They THINK their job is to CREATE LEGISLATION. Needed or not. Do you know how many more important things there are to vote on other than the volume of TV commercials? This is bullshit fluf just so they can do something FOR US. While the other 98.7% of the time they're increasing the size of the government, therefore increasing the amount of taxes they need to take out.

    Seeing that they wasted their time on this BS just pisses me off. I have a remote. I can turn it down. Shit, I have a DVR and I rarely watch ANYTHING except the 5pm local news at the time it actually airs. I just SKIP the commercials all together.

  • by Shagg (99693) on Friday October 01, 2010 @11:16AM (#33759342)

    Does the commercial volume bill apply to campaign commercials? I'd bet there's an exception in there somewhere too.

  • by dj245 (732906) on Friday October 01, 2010 @11:18AM (#33759366) Homepage
    The congress will screw it up.

    Because it is a popular bill with broad bi-partisan support, its a good place to stick riders and amendments that a small minority wants passed. The bill then becomes nastier and nastier as the congress attaches more and more crap. Finally it becomes a big problem for people who want to vote for it due to all the other BS that has gotten shoehorned in. Do they vote for it and vote for all the unread amendments, or do they vote no and face commercials about how they voted against volume controls for commercials?
  • by mcvos (645701) on Friday October 01, 2010 @11:28AM (#33759516)

    I keep hearing this more and more lately. Democrats are terrible at implementing their good ideas, Republicans are good at implementing their terrible ideas. You're screwed either way.

  • Re:Smart Sound (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Duradin (1261418) on Friday October 01, 2010 @11:43AM (#33759770)

    And if everyone torrents everything they watch having new things to torrent wouldn't be a problem either, since there wouldn't be any.

    It's like the people who won't get their kids vaccinated because they know about herd immunity. Get enough freeloaders and it stops working.

    So for the remaining people who do watch TV they need to make the commercials even more attention grabbing to compensate, making them even more annoying. So hats off to you, freeloading AC, for making commercials even more annoying.

  • Re:Impracticle? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 01, 2010 @11:44AM (#33759786)
    So once the television networks go down, who's going to produce the content?
  • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Friday October 01, 2010 @12:10PM (#33760296)

    summed up as: we have more dynamic range now (with HD) and so the content we care about can be sitting at, say, 20 or more dB down from normal and then the commercial comes on normalized to peak at 0dB (or clip; probably clip and clip a lot).

    when they used a lot of compression for audio (10 or 20 yrs ago) this was less of a problem. now the audio comes thru digitally and that's 90+ dB of range they can fuck with. they can bury content way way down so that we turn our volume controls up to hear the main show and then they slam us with 20dB more level during commercial time.

    criminal. and finally we admit it.

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday October 01, 2010 @12:17PM (#33760422) Homepage

    Alternately, vote Cthulhu. Why support the lesser evil?

  • by ArcherB (796902) on Friday October 01, 2010 @12:29PM (#33760686) Journal

    You can blame the Republicans and blue dogs for that. They want to cut taxes, but are unwilling to cut any of the services which their constituents want. Sure people like tax cuts and don't mind somebody elses services getting cut, but the fact is that as long as they refuse to contribute to a solution we're not going to have one.

    If you pay really close attention to campaign ads for conservatives they rarely if ever mention what precisely it is that they intend to cut in order to reduce the deficit nor do they typically point out that unless you cut spending by more than you cut taxes you end up with either no change in debt levels or an increased debt load.

    Democrats and liberals aren't exactly saints, but at least they understand that it's tax and spend, not charge and spend. It's easy to be the party of thrift when you can make the other party actually find the money.

    Of course Republicans don't want a cut in the services they receive. They just want the FEDERAL government to cut the services it offers. Republicans, actually conservatives, don't mind paying taxes for government services, they just want those taxes and services to be local, where there is more control. The only power the federal government should have are the powers spelled out in the Constitution.

    Why should someone in North Dakota pay to fix a bridge in Florida? Why should someone in New Mexico pay for upgrades to the NYC subway system? Why should someone in Oregon pay for bus efficiency upgrades in Houston? Let each state take care of themselves. If your state makes you pay too much in taxes, move to a state with a lower tax rate. If you state doesn't offer the services you want or require, move to a state that does. The federal government should have no say in matters that happen entirely within a single state, unless Constitutional rights of citizens are violated or the Constitution lists that particular function as a federal power. You know, like the 10th Amendment says. Anything that crosses state lines falls under federal jurisdiction.

    BTW, this law is OK, because TV usually crosses state lines. Sure, there are local stations, but most of those are owned by an interstate company. Of the truly, independently owned local stations, federal law should not apply and the states should regulate them.

  • Wrong perspective (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hduff (570443) <hoytduff@NoSPAM.gmail.com> on Friday October 01, 2010 @12:29PM (#33760710) Homepage Journal

    FTA: a bill to require television stations and cable companies to keep commercials at the same volume as the programs they interrupt

    The programs interrupt the commercials, or hasn't Congress watched TBS lately?

  • by alexo (9335) on Friday October 01, 2010 @12:45PM (#33760990) Journal

    Stop wasting your vote on the same D or R screwage. Vote third party. Even if you lose you can brag, "Well I didn't vote for either asshole. Can't blame me."

    Because being a smug, self-important asshole yourself is better and more productive way to solve problems. Gotcha. Asshole.

    I don't usually feed anonymous trolls but this fallacy deserves to be exposed for what it is.

    This is how it works:
    1. Vote 3rd party (or independent).
    2. Act smug, impressing the idea that both Rs and Ds are equally assholes onto friends and showing them that there is an alternative, even if only to feel morally superior.
    3. Friends fork() the process.
    4. Profit!

    In short: In this case being smug *is* a productive way to solve the problem, and the ACPP is a harmful idiot.

  • by Technician (215283) on Friday October 01, 2010 @01:06PM (#33761430)

    This tends to correct itself. This was tried a couple years ago and it's use has died out. Research showed the moment someone heard the commercial siren, they automatically tuned out the commercial and gave attention to the road looking for the emergency vehicle and most often did not even register the commercial message. When the source was identified as the radio, the most often response was to turn it off and continue to see if there was a real siren in the area. I have not heard a siren in a commercial in several years now.

  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Friday October 01, 2010 @04:22PM (#33764468) Homepage Journal

    From the general feel of the comments so far, it looks like my opinion will be pretty unpopular

    If by "unpopular" you mean "illogical", then you're right. Your argument makes no sense at all.

    when you make a law out of every good idea it can create problems

    Only if the law is badly written or unevenly enforced, or the idea merely seems to be a good one as many bad ideas often are.

    Every law we make takes away just a little of our freedom. Make murder against the law, I lose the freedom to murder you

    No, it only tales away anarchy. You do NOT have the freedom to murder. Your freedoms end where mine begin, and that's how it should be. You should NOT be "free" to break into my house and deprive me of my freedom of privacy. You should not be free to take my belongings and deprive me of my property rights. My privacy and property are my freedoms. You and nobody else have the right to deprive me of my rights.

    But as Americans, we don't have a right to not be inconvenienced, to not be annoyed.

    We do to a point. My freedom of speech does not tale away your freedom to ignore me (and BTW, the first amendment IS a law, and it does NOT take away anyone's freedom or rights). I do not have the right and should not have the freeedom to come into your home and wake up your sleeping children. If I wake up your children I'm doing you harm. It's just plain WRONG to do that, and you have no right to do me wrong.

    Now, if you want to smoke a joint in your own living room, go for it. You're not harming anyone. There are good laws and bad laws, this is a GOOD law, pot laws are BAD laws. You're getting "bad laws" confused with "all laws".

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