CRTC Tells Broadcasters to Turn Down Loud Commercials


Loud commercials on televisionTHUNDER BAY – When watching television, often the volume on the commercials is far louder than the show. That is an issue that the Canadian Radio Television Commission says has become one of the issues for television viewers. There were over 7,000 comments from Canadians during the public consultation process conducted by the CRTC.

The CRTC states, “Canadians overwhelmingly expressed the view that the excessive loudness of television commercials has been an irritant for years. For example, a typical comment was that ‘Commercials are broadcast at a much louder volume…and everyone I know finds this incredibly intrusive and irritating. It is like being shouted at by the advertisers….’ Canadians also relayed their frustration at the industry’s apparent lack of action on the issue, particularly in light of the availability of technical solutions. For example, one individual stated, ‘since the technology already exists to reduce the perceived and/or actual loudness of commercials, I do not see why changes could not be implemented very quickly’.”

Today, the CRTC has announced that broadcasters must control the loudness of TV commercials by September 1, 2012. “Over the years, we have seen a steady increase in consumer complaints about loud ads,” said Konrad von Finckenstein, Q.C., Chairman of the CRTC. “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.”

Overall, broadcasters and television service providers have told the CRTC “that it was in their best interest to control the loudness of commercials in order to respond to viewer’s concerns and that regulatory measures were therefore not necessary”. That group includes the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Quebecor Media Inc., Télé-Québec, V Interactions Inc. and the Broadcasters Technical Coordinating Committee (TCC), which represents a number of broadcasters including Thunder Bay Television Inc.

In 2009, the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC), the internationally recognized technical standards body for digital television, set a standard for measuring and controlling television signals in order to minimize fluctuations in loudness between programming and commercials. This is the standard that will apply as a result of the CRTC’s action. Equipment to measure and control the loudness of commercials is widely available in the marketplace.

This decision means that viewers will no longer have to reach for their remotes to manually control the volume when regular programming cuts to commercial advertisement. Broadcasters will have to ensure that both programs and ads are transmitted at the same volume.

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