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The end of too-loud adverts?

Here’s one for Squander Two: the Advertising Standards Authority is running a consultation on how best to get rid of too-loud TV adverts.

As S2 points out from time to time, adverts aren’t actually any louder than the programmes in terms of peak levels; however, they *are* louder overall, because they’re compressed. The same thing happens with some CDs, which is why the Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ Californication was described as “almost unlistenable” in the papers over the weekend.

As the linked item explains, the problem is one of peaks. Ads can’t exceed certain peak levels, so advertisers simply compress the utter crap out of their soundtracks so that every single sound is approaching the peak levels.

In the real world, a whisper is quieter than a scream. With enough compression, you can make the whisper and the scream sound equally loud. Essentially that’s what the most invasive adverts do.

So what’s happening now? The ASA says:

broadcasters should be better able to match the sound levels of ads with the sound output of the whole channel. That means there should be less of a perceived imbalance between ad and programme sound levels, leading to less viewer irritation and fewer complaints to the ASA.

The consultation ends in August, but don’t get in touch if you just want to say that ads are too loud:

The purpose of the consultation is not simply to ask if TV ads are too loud: BCAP [the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice] already acknowledges that some viewers perceive that they are. Instead, the purpose of the consultation is to encourage technically informed responses as to whether the proposed rule will give broadcasters enough guidance to ensure that there will be less of a perceived disparity between the sound levels of TV ads and programmes.