Morrow: Legislators urged to turn the volume down on TV ads

In the grand scheme of things, I guess the issue of blaring volume on television commercials ranks a zero on a scale of one to 10.

Just the same, the issue has been a source of grievance for decades, and I'm sure millions of TV viewers gratefully greeted the passage Tuesday of a bill in the U.S. House barring the obnoxious increase in volume for ads during programs.

U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., had 90 co-sponsors for the bill, one of whom was a Republican. According to an Associated Press report, Eshoo drafted the measure after learning the problem of abrupt loudness when commercials come on was a common complaint to the Federal Communications Commission. Right now, according to the AP's report, the government doesn't have much say in the volume of TV ads.

Commenting on the bill, Congresswoman Shelly Berkley, D-Nev., and one of the co-sponsors, said anyone she's talked to about the topic said "blaring commercials are a big aggravation."

"It's like an air raid siren coming on just when you're relaxing and watching a program," she said, adding, "It's a quality of life issue."

"People have been ticked off about this for decades, but the advertisers and the FCC have maintained a do-nothing attitude," Berkley said.

Congresswoman Dina Titus, also D-Nev., echoed Berkley's comments, saying that "obnoxious commercials that are significantly louder" than the show being viewed have been a "top complaint" received by the FCC from consumers.

"With the CALM Act, this nuisance will finally be addressed and Nevadans will no longer be bombarded by painfully louder commercials," Titus said.

A spokesman for Carson City's Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., noted that the bill passed unanimously "because anyone with a television has been inconvenienced by loud commercials."

Inconvenienced? I don't think the term "shell shocked" is too over the top.

I sometimes watch TV in bed at night and inadvertently fall asleep. In the olden days before 24-hour broadcasts I would wake up in the middle of the night to a mild hissing noise and snowy picture on my screen. Now I am jarred out of the arms of Morpheus by an ear-splitting message telling me I should change my auto insurance to another provider.

Bless you, members of the House. I hope the Senate will be able to find time in the midst of all its challenges to concur with this bill. The television viewing public has suffered long enough.

• Sue Morrow is a longtime journalist and member of the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame. She may be reached at soozy


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment