Ever been watching a TV program, only to have a commercial kick in and the volume level automatically crank up several notches? The Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission will now make that a thing of the past starting September 1, 2012.
After holding a public consultation on the matter earlier this year, the CRTC has decided that broadcasters need to turn down the volume on loud TV commercials, ensuring that both programs and ads are transmitted at the same volume.
The reason for the volume increase is so that consumers who often move away from the TV during commercial breaks to head to the washroom or make a snack are still within ear's range of the advertisements. But for those who remain seated, or who are watching recorded programs from a PVR and choose not to skip through, the sudden rise in volume can be annoying, causing one to jolt up quickly, searching for the remote to turn it down. With several commercial breaks in between a program, controlling the constant up and down sound can be cumbersome.
"Over the years, we have seen a steady increase in consumer complaints about loud ads," says Konrad von Finckenstein, Q.C., Chairman of the CRTC. "Broadcasters have allowed ear-splitting ads to disturb viewers, and have left us little choice but to set out clear rules that will put an end to excessively loud ads. The technology exists, let's use it."
During the public proceeding, the CRTC received over 7,000 comments. And Canadians were "overwhelmingly" of the view that commercial advertisements were too loud, urging the CRTC to take action.
In 2009, the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC), the internationally recognized technical standards body for digital television, set a standard for measuring and controlling television signals in order to minimize fluctuations in loudness between programming and commercials. This is the standard that will apply as a result of the CRTC's action.
Equipment to measure and control the loudness of commercials is widely available in the marketplace. And consider features like Audyssey's Dynamic EQ volume level compensation found in many AV receivers.
Draft regulations requiring Canadian broadcasters to adhere to the ATSC's international standard will be published for comment before the end of 2011.