France forces TV ads to pipe down
New rules have been introduced as a response to complaints from viewers that TV ads are much louder than the programmes they are interrupting.
The TV regulatory authority, the CSA (Conseil supérieur de l'audiovisuel), receives around three complaints every week about the issue of noisy commercials.
Following a consultation launched in 2008 on the issue, limits will be set on the sound intensity allowed on TV.
"We have discovered that there are indeed differences in the perception of volume between TV commercials and other programmes as well as between different TV channels," said the president of the CSA, Michel Boyon.
"This phenomenon is very inconvenient and not very respectful of TV viewers," he added. "The main problem has been how to measure these sound variations."
Philippe Espinet from TV channel BFM TV said that TV channels were not turning up the volume, but that advertising arrived with the sound digitally mastered in a way that made it seem much more intense.
The CSA has set guidelines on sound intensity for ad makers and TV channels that, from December 19th, should mean no more noticeable differences between the ads and programmes.
The availability of more reliable measurement tools means the CSA will be able to check if the rules are being followed.
"France will be the first country in Europe to deal with this problem," said Christine Kelly, who heads up the consumer protection wing of the CSA.