TV ad volumes must be lowered

The CRTC is demanding broadcasters turn down the volume on ads after Canadians complained that TV commercials are just too loud.

The CRTC, the federal broadcast regulator, has had an earful from Canadians about the loudness of TV ads and is ordering broadcasters to do something about it by Sept. 1, 2012.

More than 7,000 Canadians responded to a call for comments from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission on sound volume in ads and the overwhelming majority said loudness was a persistent problem.

Many were similar to this comment from John Ring of Surrey, B.C.

"It is a major annoyance that as soon as TV commercials are broadcast that the loudness increases very noticeably. It makes me reach for the remote and either turn it on mute or change the channel," he wrote to CRTC.

As a result, the CRTC plans to require broadcasters and television service providers to ensure that commercials and regular programming are at an even volume. But they're giving them a year to do it.

"Over the years, we have seen a steady increase in consumer complaints about loud ads," CRTC chair Konrad von Finckenstein said in a statement. "Broadcasters have allowed ear-splitting ads to disturb viewers and have left us little choice but to set out clear rules that will put an end to excessively loud ads. The technology exists, let’s use it."

They will be required to adhere to a standard created in 2009 by the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC), an international agency that sets technical standards for broadcasting.

Broadcasters in both the U.S. and the U.K. have already addressed the problem of loudness in ads.

The CRTC is setting Sept. 1, 2012, as the deadline to implement technical solutions that will solve the loudness problem, saying it realizes there will be a cost to the technology. It will publish new rules by the end of this year.

Broadcasters and cable companies who intervened in the consultation agreed that there is technology available to stop ads being substantially louder than the program. Signal providers such as cable and satellite companies will be included in new regulations because they add Canadian commercials to simulcast programs.