/ Technology

Your comments: TV ads ARE too loud!

As we all sit down to watch Boxing Day telly, there’s one thing getting in the way of perfect festive viewing – adverts. And according to many of you, it’s not just their that content annoys, it’s their volume too.

Back in October, I asked whether TV ads were louder than the programmes they surrounded. When I stumbled across the UK’s TV advertising code, which rules that ads must not be too noisy, I almost convinced myself the problem didn’t exist. That was until I saw the results of our loud ads poll.

Over 1,000 of you voted, and a resounding 98% said loud ads annoyed them. The rest of the votes were shared equally between those who didn’t get annoyed and those who didn’t think ads were actually that loud. But it was your comments that drove the message home.

We hear you loud and clear

The support for TV ads being too loud was deafening:

Allan Ford: ‘It is not a figment of your imagination, my wife sits with the zapper in her hand; she spends the entire viewing time switching the volume up and down. It drives me crazy so I retire to my computer and rarely ever watch TV.’

Vonph: ‘Yes it is a problem! Sometimes I think they are so loud my TV speakers are going to blow. I want to be able to immerse myself in whatever I’m watching, not have to be looking out for the black and white advert indicator in the top right, so I can ready the volume button.’

Thomas Wilson (in his best Points of View impression): ‘Can nothing be done to stop those buggering drums and the juvenile hullaballoo which dominates so many transmissions? It doesn’t make me strain my ears to listen to the message, it drives me to hit the mute button. Seems that the industrial psychologists have pronounced that the racket will make us listen more intently to the message. Not me mate. No, not even subliminally. Yrs. etc. Very Irate. Tunbridge Wells.’

Advertisers shoot themselves in the foot

Some pointed out how counter-productive it was for advertisers to pump up the volume:

Colin: ‘When ads come on we immediately mute the television because the difference in volume is so marked. Surely that defeats the objectives of the advertisers themselves and they should be encouraging the broadcasters to stop this behaviour too?’

John Symons: ‘Advertisers shoot themselves in the foot because we never listen to their adverts, having turned the volume down too far in disgust.’

Dave: ‘It does seem short-sighted and counter-productive for advertisers to be making their target audience avoid them whenever possible, mute them when they can’t avoid them, and be generally exasperated by them.’

Fast-forwarding through the ads

Many of you are fighting back, by finding ways to skip the ads completely:

Peter T: ‘Like so many others, on commercial channels I just set my PVR to record and start watching 15 minutes later. It’s extraordinary to think that before PVRs I wasted between 12 and 15 minutes of every hours’ TV watching on adverts.’

Jonas131415: ‘I’m so fed up with it I seldom watch any live TV. I even record live sports events so I can skip through the adverts.’

Robodoc: ‘This is looking almost unanimous – we are all recording on SKY+ and skipping through the adverts, especially because of volume but also because we choose not to watch them. I would actually pay extra for advert-free channels if offered, but in the meantime watch mainly BBC output.’

R Cooney: ‘I download all my TV from the internet and watch them in my own time with no adverts. I will never waste my time watching adverts ever again.’

Phillip raised one negative to skipping ads: ‘Those who are fast forwarding through the commercial breaks are also missing some decent adverts at the moment. Do they know that the Tetley Teafolk are back?’

Personally, that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make. All in all, I’m blown away by how many of you agree with me (and it seems your ears are being blown away too). Either the code isn’t being properly enforced, or advertisers are finding a way around it. Or we’re all mad… BANG!


With Cable that I have with their very numerous channels only a few worth
watching, not possible to watch them all on computer…. look on the bright
side, just mute/unmute, take a break, get up and exercise legs for up to five
times an hour otherwise w/out ads unmovable couched potato for hours
that surely can’t be good for anyone.

I rarely if ever watch anything live anymore because of the ads. I do like Peter T and start watching the programmes 15 minutes after they start (or at another time altogether) or I watch them on “on-demand” when they are available… but I’m with Virgin and it’s the trailers are too loud while I’m searching for my programmes… so I switch the volume off. They lose, not me.

I don’t find watching programmes on my computer very comfortable for very long, otherwise I’d make more use of it.

With all that’s going on in the world and the economy is this really important, worth discussing or writing about?

Anthony says:
28 December 2011

I have whinged loud and often about higher volume levels in adverts. One story I heard was that they increased the volume to compensate for people taking a comfort break or popping out of the room to put the kettle on. Well, as this simple survey shows, that’s not a real thing is it?

Mindst you, with 20 minutes of each hours TV show being squandered on pointless adverts, perhaps we should use the advertisers language and mention ROI. With falling audiences and more muting/recording&skipping going on, surely the sensible companies will simply switch to visual adverts only, or better yet, simply stop advertising altogether. We already have nearly as much time spent advertising future programs in each break as we have commercial products/services.

Andy Dickson says:
29 December 2011

Agreed about the ads volume, tho it must vary around the country since it’s only slightly higher here on Sky. (south west scotland) What horrifies me is the Sky Trailers on some channels showing gruesome medical conditions with no warning – its the first item shown on every break for what seems like weeks before the programme finally airs. You couldn’t PAY me to watch the programme but I get no choice with the trailers

Captain Zeppos says:
2 January 2012

This has undoubtedly got to be one of the most irritating aspects of modern day Tv.I recall not so many years ago back in the good old days of the ITA,(Independent Television Authority,then to become the IBA) when advertising on commercial Tv was strictly enforced.Nine minutes of advertising an hour,pre-marked with a tiny white square which appeared in the top right hand corner of the screen 30 seconds beforehand.The adverts were actually imaginative,entertaining,& usually a pleasure to watch.Sadly,those days are long since gone.Having to constantly endure the cheap garbage reality Tv that has become apparent in recent years,this cheap form of advertising shall only ensure that they will lose increasingly more viewers with the wealth of garbage that is already being shoved down our throats daily.Time to switch off,me-thinks..

wreckedthumb says:
11 November 2012

I agree whole hartedly, the aadvertising comission needs to get a proper enforcement team together and make them watch multiple channels for say ten hours at one fixed volume.
I have downloaded a db meter app “i live for apps” and checked across t channels on dtv and found there to be nearly 20db of diference across the range.
Not a hope that falls inside guidelines. My father my have passed on but his complaint lives on strongly

Just had the bbc food advice advert on, had to turn it down at least 5, maybe the bbc are unused to advertising but this is surely too loud