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“Turn That Down!”

TV
Jason Allentoff, Townsquare Media

I am a self-proclaimed couch potato. I admit it. I love TV. Movies as well. Even if you limit your viewing to an hour a day, you can still relate to what I’m gonna talk about today. It’s one of the reasons many of us choose to sit with the remote either on your lap or within an arms length.

We’ve all experienced a sudden and rather abrupt change in the TV volume. We’re watching a show and all of a sudden, a commercial comes on. It’s a lot louder than the program. You adjust the volume down to a more comfortable level. When the show comes back on, you can’t hear a word of the dialogue. So you bump the sound back up. The same thing happens during the next station break. Is there anything more annoying? Commercials have long been a disappointing interruption during a program. Remember those commercial skip features on VCR’s in the late 90′s? Wow. Dating myself here. I’m sure there are kids today who don’t know what a VHS tape is.

The Federal Communications Commission has just approved new rules that require broadcast and cable stations to play spots at the same volume as the show. It’s part of a Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act, or CALM Act, which was signed by President Barack Obama and passed by Congress last year. It makes sure the networks make those usually loud ads a little lighter on the ears. Consumers have been complaining about this issue for years. When you get down to actual decibel levels, the numbers are shocking. The average TV broadcast averages about 70 while a garbage truck near 90. The sound for a commercial usually goes up to 75 to 80. That will thankfully change. I can be a lot CALMER, pun intended, when they put this into practice. Not saying I flip out but it would be nice to put the remote down.

The FCC Commissioner was quoted in an Associated Press report saying without the protection, consumers had “endured what sometimes were frightening decibel levels that resulted in considerable alarm, anger and spilled popcorn” for years. I never spilled anything but one time I had fallen asleep in the recliner and was jolted out of slumber by a Domino’s Cheesy Bread spot. The commission blamed the problem on issues with the analog signals of television. Now that we’ve officially switched to digital, it will be easier. TV stations can choose to get an extension to change their standards so if you can’t stand it, they sell a volume adapter at many electronic stores.

When I DVR shows, I fast forward the commercials so that’s not too much of an issue. With the exception of the Super Bowl, commercials are just annoying. They can sometimes take away from the enjoyment of the program. While they depend on the advertising revenue, do they really need to show animated lower-third graphics of shows coming up? I hate the animated ones that bounce out during a show. I was once watching a very suspenseful film on a cable station that I never saw before and in the corner of the screen, an ad for a kid’s movie popped on for at least 30 seconds. Ruined the mood completely.
Now if we can only get them to make them stop showing TV commercials in the movie theater.

Oh and for those who wonder – some of the shows I watch include Boardwalk Empire, True Blood, Fringe, Walking Dead, American Horror Story, Kitchen Nightmares, Hell’s Kitchen, Mike and Molly, South Park, Judge Judy and too many more to name here.

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