Noisy TV ads face ire of US politicians
LONDON - Over-loud TV ads in the US are facing a crackdown from new legislation which would force the media regulator to police 'excessively noisy or strident' advertisements.
The legislation was approved this week by the House of Representatives but sill needs to be approved by the Senate.
Democrat congresswoman Anna Eshoo, who filed the bill, was critical of the current system of self-regulation, saying: "Volunteerism hasn't worked for 50 years."
The legislation would force the Federal Communications Commission to introduce guidelines proposed by the Advanced Television Systems Committee within a year.
In the UK, self-regulatory body, the Advertising Standards Authority, in June 2008 changed its approach from monitoring absolute sound levels to accounting for "subjective loudness".
An ASA spokeswoman claimed it has seen a "dramatic reduction" in the number of complaints about the sound levels of ads from the 100-150 complaints per year it was getting before the change to 31 complaints in the 12 months after.
The new rules read: "Advertisements must not be excessively noisy or strident. The maximum subjective loudness of advertisements must be consistent and in line with the maximum loudness of programmes and junction material.
"Broadcasters must endeavour to minimise the annoyance that perceived imbalances could cause, with the aim that the audience need not adjust the volume of their television sets during programme breaks.
"For editorial reasons, however, commercial breaks sometimes occur during especially quiet parts of a programme, with the result that advertisements at normally acceptable levels seem loud in comparison."
In September, the ASA reprimanded UKTV's Yesterday channel for airing excessively noisy ads during Catherine Cookson drama 'The Round Tower', which it noted was a "quiet drama".
One MP has called for more action on the loudness of ads in the wake of the US legislation.
Conservative MP Phillip Davies, who sits on the media select committee, told the Daily Mail: "It is incredibly irritating. The broadcasting industry should get a grip on the problem, before we have a situation where a law is passed on it."
Media regulator Ofcom shares responsibilities for regulating ad sound levels with the ASA and has the power to impose fines on offenders.
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