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Digital TV and loud commericals

Ben Drawbaugh

As much as we love HD and you know how much we love HD, we hate loud commercials. No we don't watch them very often thanks to our Series3 TiVo, but on occasion we don't hit that 30 second skip button fast enough and we get blasted. Part of the problem is that the shows are usually Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound and the commercials are not. Why this causes problems for the engineers is beyond us, but lucky for us the FCC has our back. You see the FCC has rules about the volume differential between programming and the commercials and it is a little different for DTV. They say "The value of the dialnorm parameter in the AC-3 elementary bit stream shall indicate the level of average spoken dialogue within the encoded audio program. Dialogue level may be measured by means of an "A" weighted integrated measurement (LAeq)." In other words; the commercials can't be louder than the dialog, which is good cause otherwise they could compare the commercials with the volume level of the explosions during 24. If you have this problem, don't bother calling DirecTV, Dish or your cable provider -- you have to go straight to the source and call the local affiliate. You can usually find the number on their website and if they are no help, follow the link to the FCC and file a complaint.


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