A few months ago I was at a friends house relaxing in the living room with a mug of wine and a pizza. The lights were dim, we were engrossed in some show on his new widescreen plasma. It was a nice time. And then a commercial came on. There was a boom as the speakers blew, shrieking sparks and flaming plastic across the room, the widescreen shattered, hot plasma burned our eyes out. We spent the next hour recovering and trying to figure out why nothing is done about this gratuitous annoyance.
You know the routine. The question is when are people finally going to throw open their windows and hell into the streets, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” Well, a bill proposed by California Rep. Anna Eshoo passed the house saying just that (in so many words). The bill is aimed at regulating the volume of TV ads that daily blast people’s faces off, and have been for decades.
The way it is now, commercials can be broadcast at peak volume – that is the loudest possible output equivalent to the most tremendous explosion or the most intense firefight. Commercials aren’t actually louder on paper from TV shows, it’s just that they are as loud as the loudest moments possible – all the time – and most show are not that loud. Couple this with how inherently annoying the are and you have the illusion of an auditory IED going off in your living room 18 out of every 60 minutes. The bill, titled Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) demands that the peak volume of a commercial be lowered to the peak volume of the segment airing just before it, thus restoring some balance. I guess if you’re watching “24” you may still suffer but at least it won’t be as jarring.
As sensible and overdue as this is some do no want any kind of government regulation. One guy in particular, Berin Szoka who works for the Progress and Freedom Foundation, sees to think the solution is a combination of: industry self regulation (well that hasn’t worked in lifetime), new industry hardware (more products!), and the mute button.
Sorry Szoka. While I can get down with his Orwellian fears to a degree, we the people lease this airspace to these corporations in the first place – and they are, have been and will continue to abuse it unless we the people legislate the shit out of them apparently. They can’t even determine what’s in their own best interest… is a standard practice of muting all ads good for them? Tivo has already permanently removed ads from many American homes, a trend that will only continue unless some commons sense is applied, if through legislation then so be it. It’s also clear that the Progress and Freedom Foundation is funded by large media corporations whose goals are dubious at best.