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Ban On Loud TV Commercials Takes Effect Today 383

Posted by timothy
from the watch-for-workarounds dept.
netbuzz writes "A new law banning broadcasters from delivering TV commercials at a higher volume takes effect today at the end of a yearlong implementation period. Called the CALM Act, or Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act, the law does provide for violators to be fined. TV commercials that crank up the volume have been the No. 1 complaint logged with the FCC over the last 10 years."
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Ban On Loud TV Commercials Takes Effect Today

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  • Re:I said (Score:5, Informative)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @12:41PM (#42274785) Homepage

    really? people are actually bothered by that?

    I don't know what it sounds like through the TV speakers since I always play my TV through my amp, but when you have the volume set for a TV show and suddenly a commercial comes in which is markedly louder ... yes, it's extremely annoying.

    Some commercials are played at a significantly higher volume than the rest of the stuff being aired. Presumably to make damned sure you can hear the commercial.

    It can be the difference between a comfortable listening volume and "WTF just happened". It's just the advertisers being asshats, and someone has finally told them they can't do it.

  • Re:I said (Score:5, Informative)

    by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @12:49PM (#42274915)
    The thing about it is that my understanding is that for most "loud" commercials, they are not technically louder than the TV show. It is just that the entire commercial is as loud as the the loudest part of the TV show while the loud point in the TV show is only for a moment or two before the volume returns to much lower normal volumes. I am sure there are exceptions, but I remember seeing a study which made this claim back right around the time this law was passed.
  • Re:I said (Score:5, Informative)

    by Joce640k (829181) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @01:03PM (#42275199) Homepage

    It even has a name - "dynamic range compression" [wikipedia.org].

  • Re:I said (Score:5, Informative)

    by medv4380 (1604309) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @01:08PM (#42275287)
    That's actually a part of the reason the FCC has taken so long to pass the regulation in the first place. However, that argument no long applies. The technical document describing it is here [atsc.org]. That document describes the Normalization process the commercial should be sent though to make it in compliance. Someone could probably try to subvert it, but that's what the reporting is for. If there is a complaint then the FCC will go back and look to see if it was a problem with the Algorithm or if it was someone subverting it.
  • by iluvcapra (782887) on Thursday December 13, 2012 @01:16PM (#42275429)

    ITU-R BS.1770-1 or -3 are measurement standards, they don't prescribe any limits. It gives a way of measuring the subjective "loudness" of a program based on a psychoacoustic model but it presumes total control over the speaker system (which TV doesn't provide), and it doesn't say "how loud."

    EBU R128 gives a single standard, and you use it with ITU-R BS.1770. The problem is that it treats a dialogue-heavy program the same as a musical program; a musical program has a lot more signal, over a half hour average, than a dialogue one, so a musical performance will tend to sound quieter when put next to a dialogue heavy one, given they're mixed with the same level normalization scheme.

    The CALM Act is actually based on Dolby Laboratories technical definitions and the dialnorm subcode metadata in an ATSC bitstream actually has to be decoded and properly enforced. It's not actually LAW but it's an adopted FCC federal regulation. Dolby's standard is to measure the average dialogue level in the program, and only the dialogue, and to use that to derive the normalization level -- EBU R128 uses the entire program mixed together, dialogue, music and sound effects. I think Dolby's approach is superior but more technically demanding, since it requires the person encoding the AC3 bitstream to have access to the dialogue mix-minus, but on professional productions this isn't an issue.

  • Incorrect.
    "Only applies to over-the-air broadcasters, no cable channels"
    Broadcast television stations and pay TV providers were given until this date to be in full compliance.
    http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/loud-commercials [fcc.gov]

    "Allows for a one year exemption for anyone requesting."
    If they can show that it is a financial hardship to do it now.

    "Does not apply to any commercials put in by your cable or satellite provider"

    http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/loud-commercials [fcc.gov]
    " Specifically, the CALM Act directs the Commission to establish rules that require TV stations, cable operators, satellite TV providers or other multichannel video program distributors (MVPDs) to apply the Advanced Television Systems Committee's (ATSC) A/85 Recommended Practice ("ATSC A/85 RP") to commercial advertisements they transmit to viewers."

    You are just another asshole who looks to complain and thinks an opinion based on ignorance is just as justified as actual facts.

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