News Columns & Blogs

Pro-con: Should Congress limit volume in TV ads?

The irritating scheme in which television commercials automatically spike in volume could soon be a thing of the past. By voice vote, the House approved a bill aimed at stopping TV ads from being played louder than programs. The bill would require the Federal Communications Commission to enforce broadcasting industry guidelines on uniform sound. Broadcasters for years have failed to comply with their own standards. Some critics complain that Congress shouldn't waste its time on this issue. Others note that a solution is as simple as turning off your TV. But why should viewers need to do that, just to escape an annoying advertising ploy in their own homes? Advertisers shouldn't be able to dictate the volume level of your television in your home. If broadcasters were smart, they'd take steps to enforce this reasonable standard before Congress legislates the issue. — Philadelphia Inquirer editorial

The House approved a bill by Rep. Anna G. Eshoo, D-Calif., to turn down the advertisers' volume. It would require all stations, cable and satellite TV operators to follow the volume-limiting guidelines adopted by the digital TV standards group. Eshoo might have the public on her side, but as a representative of Silicon Valley, she should be more wary of having the government dictate technological solutions to problems that individuals can solve themselves. The market is already responding — more than 30 percent of TV viewers use ad-skipping video recorders. Besides, as dissenting Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee pointed out, "Americans' televisions still have volume control, and remote controls still have 'mute' buttons. Consumers do not need the government to come into their homes and operate their remote controls for them." With all the challenges facing the country, you'd think lawmakers could find better things to do than invite themselves into their constituents' living rooms. — Los Angeles Times editorial

  Comments