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06.19.2009 12:00AM
Broadcasters Avert Loudness Bill For Now
WASHINGTON: Let us get that for you, broadcasters told lawmakers bent on regulating television audio. Reports from last week’s hearing on a law to equalize audio between commercials and program content indicate that legislators agreed to let broadcasters handle the problem. Industry witnesses at the hearing said they would issue a recommended practice for broadcast audio levels by September, according to the Chicago Tribune.

David Perry of the American Association of Advertising Agencies mentioned that ads are not supposed to be louder than the peak loudness of the show they’re in, but commercials often abut hush-hush moments in a show. Such placement makes them seem intentionally jarring.

The averted law has been circulating on Capital Hill for nearly a year now, but finally got a hearing last week in the House Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet. H.R. 1084, the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act, would have required the FCC to set loudness levels for commercials. It was introduced by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) in February.

The three-part bill instructed the commission to prevent commercials from being “excessively noisy or strident;” and from having modulation and loudness levels that “substantially” exceed the accompanying programming. The bill had 21 co-sponsors, including subcommittee chairman, Rick Boucher of Virginia. Legislators agreed to table the legislation for the time being, but promised to resurrect it if no results were achieved by the fall. – Deborah D. McAdams


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1.
Posted by: Tom Butts
Mon, 06-22-2009 - 2:00PM Report Comment
Everyone knows there is a problem. Program material is artsy-craftsy while commercials are trying to get a message across. Programs have a wide dynamic range but commercials are 3db or less total range. No one has any concrete answer. Suggestion: An audio processor that keeps several audio level averages; the past minute, the past five minutes, and the past 30 minutes. Then take a weighted average of those; perhaps 60/25/15. That level becomes the reference level for commercials. Commercials could still be a bit louder to satisfy the advertisers, but not excessively so. The numbers could be adjusted per experimental evidence, but would be universally applied across the entire industry, both broadcast and ALL other means of program delivery.






 
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