4 Solutions to Loud Commercials

by : Katherine Westphal

“Every night, I battle my TV. Just as I'm settling in to a nice, relaxing half-slumber while listening to Sarah-Jessica-Parker-as-Carrie-Bradshaw rant about men, I find myself rudely awakened by some horrendous Livelinks commercial. Suddenly I'm in a mad rush to find the remote so I can down the volume."


TV watchers have a problem.  Networks wantonly make their commercials louder then their main programming.  This makes for some irritated viewers, like the viewer above.  Many viewers have complained to the FCC, the Federal Communications Commission.  Not surprisingly, the FCC has not fixed the problem, in spite of the complaints.

Interestingly, the author claims there is another solution, an electronic device, called Dolby Volume, which supposedly will modulate the TV volume while not disturbing the quality of the show.

This may be a solution to the problem, a rather excessive, convoluted one.  However, I wonder why the author and so many others do not consider simpler, more obvious solutions.  Instead, they wait for technology to fix the problem or pester their government to get the networks in line. 

There are at least a couple of other low-tech solutions.  One is the "fast-forward" button.  Record all your shows with your VCR or DVR and fast forward through all the commercials.  At 16 or so minutes (32 30-second commercials) of commercials per hour, you could not only eliminate the problem of high-volume commercials, you could cut back your TV watching time by 25% with this simple little trick.  In fact, the loud noise from the commercials could serve to shock you out of your hypnotic TV trance just enough to hit the fast-forward button.

There is also the "mute" button.  The only condition for that solution is that you do need to keep the remote control handy.  So, that may not work if you are trying to use the TV to fall asleep.  Nonetheless, that is a genuine solution to keep in mind for other times.  While the muted commercials are playing, you could talk to your family or read instead.  It is also easier to un-mute the volume once the show comes back on.

The other obvious solution is the "OFF" button.  Turn off your TV and then you do not have to worry at all about the TV's volume.  Just imagine the peace and quiet if you implement that solution! 

Probably, however, some of you think I am joking.  “Such a radical solution!"  Consider, however, how you would react if any other company failed this miserably to meet your expectations or caused you so much grief after purchase.  You would immediately stop doing business with them.  You would tell all your friends and they would stop doing business with them too.  Soon such a company would have no clients and would be out of business.

Why is TV so different?

Why do people look to the government to fix the numerous problems or wait for some miracle techno-gadget, instead of using the most obvious solutions, one of which is to stop watching TV?

Is TV so addictive that most people cannot?

The a la carte programming debate was another example of this mentality.  Many people were upset that cable companies bundled their programming together, forcing customers to pay for adult-oriented programming in order to receive Disney and other family-oriented programs.  To fix this problem several groups petitioned the government to force the cable companies to offer a la carte programming, instead of the bundled packages. 

People turned to the government instead of simply boycotting the cable companies.  If people want family-oriented programming, they can simply use the many thousands of family movies that are available, or they can enjoy some genuine family-oriented activities instead, like playing games or playing outdoors together.

Likewise, the author above suffers though the jarring commercial interruptions.  She admits that she uses the TV to relax at night.  To her, it appears the TV is a sleep aid—a sleep aid that apparently does not work very well.  Wouldn't the obvious solution be to stop using the TV at bedtime and try an alternate solution?  Perhaps, a good book might work better as an aid to relax or sleep. 

Of course, this new techno-gadget might help.  However, if it fails to resolve the problem, will she finally turn off the TV at least at bedtime?  Or will she suffer until the government or some new gadget fixes the problem?

How about you?  Will you fix the myriad problems with TV yourself?  Or will you wait for some nameless inventor or the government to fix things and suffer needlessly in the meantime?