The television keeps shouting at me

No, I'm not suffering some sort of illness, but I am sick of the noise from the idiot box, and the title amused me.

When I was growing up in the 1970s our television spent most of its time turned off.  And when it was on, it generally spoke to us in a reasonable voice.  Hosts didn't over-emphasise everything they said to you.  And the set didn't hyperactively, or manically, yell adverts at us.  The hosts of the shows didn't behave in that manner about whatever they were doing, either, and neither did the audiences.  But now…?

The news readers bark the news at us loud enough that it makes you cringe, that you can hear it at the other end of the house (over done narration, bass-boosting plus audio compression, makes for a painful combination; and turning the volume down doesn't really help).  Never mind the lack of journalistic integrity, where nearly every story is a tabloid-style beat-up, with cheque-book-journalism thrown in, for good measure.  And, often, much of what's on the news is not really news, but put about as if it were.  Not to mention the repetitive fake news updates—which are really just the same headlines read over and over, all night long—that interrupt the programs with a great fanfare, as if they're about to tell you something startlingly newsworthy.

Adverts yell, rant, and rave, about utter garbage as if it were solid gold, and it was your last chance in the world to get your hands on it.  Grossly inappropriate adult services adverts get shown, repeatedly, through G rated programs (“G” meaning a program for general exhibition).  Often, with several of them in a row.  That's another, more recent, annoyance—two or three of the same adverts jammed together in an advert break, just in case you weren't paying attention one, two, or seven minutes ago.  Even the children's adverts can be grossly inappropriate, with a current one flogging off some waste-of-money-junk using the song “Rum and Coca Cola.”  It's no wonder that modern kids have low attention spans, when they're subjected to this mindless drivel in dribs and drabs.

Childrens shows are getting stupider and stupider.  I made the mistake of turning on the set early one morning, to see stuff that could atrophy a brain in one viewing.  With purile humour, no real plot to the story, and many repeated scenes to pad the dross out, basically just a blinking lights show.  Not to mention a number of adult cartoons that get shown as if they were for children (by the timeslots that they air in, and the promotion of them), simply because they're an animated production.  And, no, we don't need something as saccharine as the Brady Bunch's patronising moralising, instead.  But whatever happened to decent story telling?

And when did it become okay for the audience to replace clapping, and cheering, with screaming like they're being horrifically assaulted?  I'm really sick of hearing it.  Screaming is something to be done under distress, it's something that makes my blood run cold, it makes you look out for who needs help.  That's the normal reaction to hearing someone scream in terror.  If you think screaming like a stuck pig at someone is an appropriate method of expressing support for them, try doing that to someone's face the next time they do something impressive.  They'll think, rightly, that you're mentally defective.  I can't imagine what's going through the heads of the production crew when they encourage their audiences to behave that way.  If we'd behaved that way at school, we'd have got a right telling off for grossly inappropriate behaviour.

Thanks to a certain family member, nearly every day, I'm subjected to about three hours of game shows, with hyped-up hosts, screaming kids in the audience, and constant racket (it's not really music backing the action, and sound effects worse than pokey machines) throughout the whole show.  It's almost as if they feel that you'll stop watching if the host doesn't keep on talking incessently for every second of the show.  And when the game show takes a break, the adverts take over with more of the same.  It's no wonder there's so many people with gambling problems when they're indoctrinated into it from an early age with all the game shows on television, hours of them each day.

These days there's so little on the idiot box that's worth watching, I'm finding it easier and easier to turn the thing off and leave it off.  I think I'm down to about three or four things a week that I'd care to turn it on for, and most of them are not on the commercial stations.

The commercials are louder than the programs

It's been a long-standing complaint that television commercials are louder than the programs, and a long standing retort from the stations that they're not, or that they can't do anything about it (that they play all the recordings at the level they're supplied at).

From time to time I run the television through the audio loudness meter, and can see that commercials are often 6 dB louder than the program, and that the adverts are all the same as each other.

The stations, correctly, blame commercial producers for using compression, as the reason why adverts sound louder (regardless of meter readings), yet do nothing about it.  They don't reject heavily compressed commercials, sending them back to have their sound re-done.  Nor do they uncompress them, and resolve that issue themselves.  Nor do they treat the program sound to match the level of the adverts.  And their own in-house promos are just as loud as the commercials.  So there's only one conclusion that you can come to, is that they want the commercials to be louder than the program.  While I can understand that reasoning, I do not support it, especially when it's done to such extremes.

And when you switch stations it becomes readily apparent that there's significant audio level differences between programs and stations.

The sound levels are far from professionally controlled

If you go to the Federation of Australian Commercial Television Stations website, you can read the specifications for product submissions to stations, where they list (amongst other things) sound specifications, which detail things like nominal sound level being so-many decibels below full-scale, peaks so many decibels above nominal, acceptable amounts of compression, etc.  Which means that all programs, and all stations, should have similar sound levels, but they don't.

It's a bit rich them being so fussy about submissions, when they're so bad at controlling what they transmit.  You can channel surf, and notice differences in sound levels between stations, and between programs on the same station.  You can even encounter sound level changes within a program, it can be particularly noticeable how the dialogue volume before and after the opening title music is different, and various scenes within the program.  And should there be a quieter scene, where people stop talking, you can hear the background noise increase as the gain creeps up, as if they're using a nasty form of AGC.

Ever since digital broadcasting came about, our television sound has gone to the dogs.  I was never riding the volume up and down, to make viewing bearable, in the analogue days.  Whatever they were doing in the analogue days, to process and control audio, did a better job than what they're doing, now.

These days, if you set your volume for a reasonable sound level, based on the dialogue, it's inevitable that a few minutes later, the dialogue will become too quiet to hear clearly (and not because it was appropriate to the plot of the show), so you turn the volume up.  And then, a few minutes later, something else will come blaring out far too loud (usually an advert).  You get the impression that either the program producers were incompetent at mixing their show, or that someone is trying to game the loudness monitoring by making some of the show quieter than the rest, to artificially change the value of the overall average sound level readings to meet a certain target.


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