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“Because WE CARE About You!”

October 1, 2010

On January 1st, the largest effective tax hike on the American people will go into effect due to the sunset of the tax cuts passed during the Bush administration.  It’s likely you know that, mostly because you’re obviously smart and well-informed people since you see fit to read this blog.  Even Congress is seeing the looming problem with raising taxes during an economic crisis.  So that means that the House and Senate are laser-focused on fixing the problem, right?  Well, no, they said they wanted to go home early to campaign, especially since their numbers all stink right now.  So they obviously then broke away after deep discussion on what to do in the lame duck session, right?  Right?

WASHINGTON – Legislation to turn down the volume on those loud TV commercials that send couch potatoes diving for their remote controls looks like it’ll soon become law.

The Senate unanimously passed a bill late Wednesday to require television stations and cable companies to keep commercials at the same volume as the programs they interrupt.

Thanks to the AP for that gem (and thanks to Mark Krikorian for making the joke about it first).  Here’s a bit of the technical jargon:

Managing the transition between programs and ads without spoiling the artistic intent of the producers poses technical challenges and may require TV broadcasters to purchase new equipment. To address the issue, an industry organization recently produced guidelines on how to process, measure and transmit audio in a uniform way.

The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., requires the FCC to adopt those recommendations as regulations within a year and begin enforcing them a year later. Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., is the driving force behind the bill in the House.

In the old days, the way you determined the volume of one thing and reset the volume of a second track to the same, you used a device called a compressor-limiter.  It would monitor the highest sound volume of the first track and adjust the volume of the second to match.  There’s a limitation of timing… you can only limit sound that you’ve heard, so the second track can generally jack up the volume.

But even that’s a dodge.  Most commercials are already limited across the length of the commercial, but the start with the loudest volume allowed to get your attention.  So the program on the set fades quietly to commercial, which blares out the volume of the loudest boom or yell or whatever that the program had used.  Look, I’m not even in the production business, and I know enough to know that.  Apparently nobody in congress has a technical assistant who can ID stuff like this?

More importantly… why are they messing with this?  Who cares about this when faced with a massive pay cut in the form of money diverted to the government?  As Krikorian says, the feds have no business legislating this anyway.  And since nobody will be able to afford to buy TVs, it won’t matter much.

Re-elect NOBODY 2010.  Geez.

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