Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Please, for the Love of God, TURN DOWN THE COMMERCIALS!!!

In England, when you buy a new TV, you have to buy a television license.  For just over $200 per year, the English get the BBC commercial free.  The BBC is not PBS as they are the worlds largest broadcaster.  If you watch any British shows here in the states, chances are they’re from the BBC.  Monty Python was BBC.  The Office began on the BBC, long before it came to the states.  Britons get plenty of news, sports, and entertainment, all commercial free for just over $200 per year.  Yes, there are other channels in the United Kingdom, and many of them have commercials, but the English don’t seem to have a problem with the license.

I too like the idea of a television license and would happily pay $200 per year to put an end to commercials.  I’d get more program and less interruptions.  Brilliant!  Not only would I own the device that delivers content, I would own the content.  Smashing!  Best of all, I could stop reaching for the volume down button on my remote at every break!  Bloody good show!

Am I the only one who has noticed that the volume level of some of these commercials are insane and completely unnecessary?  I had a conversation a couple of weeks ago with a buddy who flies planes in China.  He was telling me that they get two American channels, Fox News and CNN.  Of all the channels he gets, these two are the only ones where the commercials are noticeably louder.  All the other channels keep it even. 

I found an article on MSNBC that explains the phenomenon.  Basically,

Most advertisers don’t want nuance. They want to grab your attention. To do that, the audio track is electronically processed to make every part of it as loud as possible within legal limits. “Nothing is allowed to be subtle,” says Brian Dooley, Editor-At-Large for CNET.com. “Everything is loud – the voices, the music and the sound effects.”

Spencer Critchley, writing in Digital Audio last month, explained it this way: “The peak levels of commercials are no higher than the peak levels of program content. But the average level is way, way higher, and that’s the level your ears care about. If someone sets off a camera flash every now and then it’s one thing; if they aim a steady spot light into your eyes it’s another, even if the peak brightness is no higher.”

Well then, it seems we need to do something about the legal limits, don’t we?  Either that, or kill commercials all together with a TV License.

I understand advertising, especially in our economy, which is based on spending.  However, when I’m enjoying a show and a commercial comes on that is so loud I flinch, I make sure I remember that product for life.  Yes, I know that’s the idea.  In this case, I remember it because I want to make sure I never spend one red cent on whatever it is they are selling!  Messing with their money is the only way I can think of that will get through to these corporations.  If they want to blow out my eardrums and aggravate what is generally a pleasant experience, then I’m going to redirect my money.  Unfortunately, I’ll probably end up redirecting towards a hearing aid.


  1. I gave up TV years ago and went first to DVDs and the web. Now it is just the web. I get the TV shows I care about. I get them when I have the time. The commercials if any are what 30sec total and often just music on audio so you won't kill it.

    Was in a hotel the other day with only cable TV.... Wow I could not believe the number and length of commercials, couldn't find what I wanted, when I did find it it was half over etc etc.

    Given a choice of either Cable or DSL (and one is all I could afford anyway) there would be no time necessary for consideration.

  2. You're not the only one, Andrew. I noticed that one a long time ago. Well, it seems like long ago. Could never stand it. Sometimes scared the crap out of me if I wasn't looking at the tube at the time. It's been a long time since I've watched actual television. I choose channels with no "commercials" when I do watch. I also pic up as much as I can online. Like NBC. You can watch full episodes for free. No commercials except the sponcer, and that's not so bad, 30 seconds worth. I'd certainly pay 200 dollars a year for something as awesome as the BBC. Great topic Andrew!