We've probably all had the experience of relaxing while quietly watching a movie, only to be blasted off the couch when a commercial message for life insurance or a male enhancement product came on at three times the decibel level of the movie we were watching. It's absolutely maddening, and it's happened to me more times than I care to think about.
The way things stand right now, broadcasters are allowed to air commercial messages at a volume equal to the peak volume of the program during which they play. That means if the program you're watching has one bomb blast or just one blood curdling scream, all the commercials during that program may blast and scream at that same sound threshold.
I had always though that perhaps some advertisers paid a small premium to have their commercials air at a higher volume. Now I know that it's simply carelessness on the part of broadcasters.
The good news is that the days of obnoxious commercial volume may soon be coming to an end. A coalition of government regulators, broadcasting overseers, and advertising executives are coming together to create a resolution for the offensive situation.
The FCC wants regulation which would restrict television commercial volume to the average sound level of the program within which it airs. This would certainly be an improvement over having commercials air at the program's peak volume.
Broadcasters and advertising representatives would like government to stay away from regulating commercial volume, but they also concede that something must change.
Dan Jaffe, executive vice president of the Association of National Advertisers told McClatchy Newspapers that advertisers and broadcasters want a commercial which is "loud enough that a reasonable person can hear it, but not so loud you can hear it in Mongolia."
Personally, I'd be happy with a level of volume which will simply keep my popcorn in its bowl and the bowl on my lap.