U.S. House passes bill to limit TV commercial volume

by Paul William Tenny

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill yesterday that would require television networks to adjust the volume of commercials so that it roughly matches that of the accompanying programming. Similar legislation has been introduced but has not been passed in the Senate.

I support this bill because there are some channels that are beyond ridiculous about commercial volume. I'm not talking about commercials that are marginally louder than the programming so as to be annoying. I can live with that. There are certain channels that lower the volume of their programming and have commercials that are too loud. You turn up your volume louder than you should need to in order to hear the programming, so that when the commercials come on, you aren't merely annoyed, you're blasted into another room and have to mute the television just to protect your hearing.

The Sci-Fi (SyFy) channel had a page on their site dedicated to answering this question, claiming that commercials come into them at a certain volume and that they are powerless to change it. It seems like that excuse is about to be put to the test, as they'll have no choice but to find a solution under this legislation.

I've seen the weak counter arguments that government shouldn't intrude into private life in this way, but I reject that wholesale. This annoyance which occasionally becomes literally painful affects anyone who watches TV -- that's 112 million homes at last count, in the United States, and still counting. It may not seem like a pressing and critical problem, but it meets a unique definition that a lot of legislation does not: this will affect and positively benefit nearly the entire country, and do it immediately.

At a time when the country seems at war with itself over health care reform which may or may not help you, and may or may not kick in for another four or five years, this is something that virtually everyone supports in Congress and something that will unarguably benefit a massive chunk of America, and do so relatively quickly, and for very little cost to anyone.

What's not to like?
in Legal, Television


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