Broadcasters to Address Audio Loudness

WASHINGTON: Broadcasters are on the brink of mitigating loud TV commercials just as lawmakers bandy about legislation to make them do so. The Advanced Television Systems Committee will hold a seminar on audio loudness Wednesday, Nov. 4, in Washington, D.C., where a recommended practice will be outlined. The ATSC has had a committee working on loudness levels for two years, and anticipated completing an RP this year.

“The seminar will provide detailed presentations on the ATSC Recommended Practice; ‘Techniques for Establishing and Maintaining Audio Loudness for Digital Television,’ now in the final stages of approval,” said ATSC President Mark Richer. “This will be a great opportunity to learn about the Recommended Practice from the audio experts who have worked for over two years to develop the document.”

The seminar will include presentations focused on the group’s work on DTV audio loudness--an entirely different can of worms than analog loudness levels. Several factors affect DTV loudness levels: When and in what form the ad is delivered to the station. Timing of content--a quiet dramatic moment abutting a bellowing man pitching mattresses. Signal processing through various distribution platforms such as cable, satellite or IPTV, and decoding through set-tops and receivers.

The cable and ad industries will be represented at the ATSC’s gathering. The seminar will hit on issues in the field, measurement, monitoring, program interchange, interstitial loudness levels, dynamic range control, metadata and a report on lip sync. There will also be an update of the loudness legislation recently passed by the House Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet. H.R. 1084, the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act would require the FCC to adopt broadcast loudness standards within a year of enactment.

Presenters at the ATSC event will include Pat Waddell of Harmonic, head of the ATSC Specialist Group on Video and Audio Coding; David Donovan of MSTV; Steve Lyman of Dolby; the NAB;s Graham Jones; Tim Carroll of Linear Acoustic;Jim DeFilippis of Fox; Gregg Coppa of CBS; Sean Richardson from Starz Entertainment; Adam Goldberg of the AGP and others.

The event will be held at the Wiley Rein Conference Center, 1776 K Street, NW, in Washington. D.C., from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., followed by a cocktail reception. Pre-registration online is $50 for ATSC members; on-site registration is $75.

More on loudness:
October 8, 2009: “TV Loudness Bill Passes Subcommittee
The House Communications subcommittee today passed legislation that would quell the volume on TV commercials.

June 15, 2009: “Broadcasters Avert Loudness Bill for Now”
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

June 9, 2009
:Legislators Want to Outlaw Loud TV Commercials
The three-part bill instructs the commission to enjoin commercials from being “excessively noisy or strident;” and from having modulation and loudness levels that “substantially” exceed the accompanying programming.

(Image by Kevin T. Houle)