Do TV Stations Increase The Volume of Commercials?

Am I The Only One Who Thinks TV Stations Increase The Volume of Commercials Over Regualr Programming?

Maybe it’s my imagination, but I swear that the volume of commercials on TV is louder than the programs. Each time a commercial comes on, I scramble for the remote and turn the volume down. When the program comes back on I have to pump it up again or I can’t hear what is being said. This is really beginning to aggravate me. I wondered if it might have something to do with the settings on the cable box and indeed, when I scrolled through the settings I discovered an option for the audio volume control that let me set it to ‘fixed’ or ‘variable.’ I tried both settings but there was no appreciable difference; later I learned (on Google) that this setting is only used to keep the volume constant on any auxiliary equipment hooked up to the TV, such as a DVD player. Hmmm. Back to the drawing board.

Next I Googled “TV commercial volume” and got another education. The Federal Communications Commission does not regulate the volume of TV programs or commercials, however broadcasters must limit the peak power they can use to send out their audio signals. That means the loudest TV commercial can never be louder than the highest volume of any TV program. With programs, the volume varies between soft and loud, depending upon the dramatic effect the program is attempting to create. Commercials, on the other hand, are not concerned with dramatic effect. Their only goal is to grab your attention and keep it for 30 seconds. To do that, the audio track is made as loud as possible within legal limits. Without highs or lows, the commercial seems much louder than the surrounding programming.

I also discovered that there is a solution to this problem. About a year ago, Dolby Laboratories developed technology to level out the sound differences between TV programs and commercials, and the technology was expected to be built into TV’s by the end of last year. Yes! I thought. My TV is brand new, so it will probably have this feature. Excitedly I dug out the manual and flipped through the pages. The technology is indeed part of the LG TV’s, but only the 26 inch model – the expensive one. I bought the cheaper 19 inch model, so no such luck.

Time for plan B. Rather than fiddling with the volume each time a commercial comes on, I’ve decided to use the mute button. I mute the volume during the commercial break and unmute when the program comes back on. Take that, all you greedy advertisers! Maybe this mute thing will even catch on. If everyone reading this blog writes about the idea or talks about it, the word could spread like wildfire. When we reach critical mass – when perhaps 25% of all viewers are muting commercials – then I’ll bet the advertisers will take notice. Maybe then they’ll do something to fix the problem.

9 Comments on “Am I The Only One Who Thinks TV Stations Increase The Volume of Commercials Over Regualr Programming?

  1. Exactly! And I watch MUCH less TV due to this fact! I HATE the commercial volume being so much louder than the TV shows!

    • Ive noticed that also on commercials the volume starts out loud enuf at the beginning, but goes way,way down in volume then sloooowly builds back up to program volume level There is NO reason to have decreased volume that I can see, it doesn’t happen on the program, it is constant volume that doesn’t irritate me like the yoyo volume on commercials. Analog tv was constant, even though the commercials were louder than the program, the were at least at a constant level!

  2. vehemently disagree with WHAT? that the commercials are louder? The ARE! go get a DB meter (sound measuring) and you will see. It’s not imagination.

  3. I know that it’s been a year since this post. And it’s still the same, commercials do have higher volume than the TV shows we watch. What I hate most about it is that when my cable channels switch to commercials, my local cable provider switches their own ads and it sometimes even disrupts my fave cable TV shows!

  4. Oh, you are right on the money! AND the volume differs by channel! We are constantly juggling the volume. Rather than muting the commercials, my husband toggles between channels and has the same issue. It makes me CRAZY!

  5. I’ve always thought commercials were louder. You are not alone! It’s like this: “Goodnight, JimBob, goodnight, Maryellen, Goodnight, Grandpa”….. RITZ CRACKERS GO WITH EVERYTHIIIIING!!!!!!

  6. I read it and its a deja vu !!!

    Your post reminds me of my “bad old days” when I used to watch television. Well, its a fact they always have higher volume when ads appear. Believe me, I did much more than what you did, to try to stop this menace but there is absolutely no solution, except the MUTE. But even for that, you have to act like an active participant in a battle.

    There are even bigger problems associated with the idiot box.

    The best solution I found is – stop watching the TV. For last 6 months I have found my life changing dramatically!!! I save at least 3 hours daily. And I don’t have words to describe the peace of mind I have now. I was a TV addict and used to think how can one live without TV !!!

    So, my advice is Just stop watching TV. You can get latest news and the best of information from internet.

    • I too have reduced the time that i watch TV. Constantly bombarded by mindless commercials trying to get me to buy something that i most likely do not need. I like to boast that I have the fastest mute control in the west. I can mute a commercial in less than a second. I often switch to music, but miss some of the show when i return to it. Should make TV’s that return to the program when the commercials are over. If i need to purchase, I will search on line for a product.

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