All New Zealand television networks are toning down their
shouting commercials in response to viewer complaints.
Most networks have agreed to introduce the quieter ads from
January 1, but TVNZ is getting in first and will adopt the
new standards from Sunday.
Television bosses have finally heeded decades of complaints
and changed the rules on sound compression - a technique that
makes many TV advertisements sound louder than the
Testing has found that because of the compression,
advertisements have a smaller sound range between soft and
loud than the programmes around them, and so they are harder
on the human ear.
TVNZ, TV3 owner MediaWorks and Maori TV have signed up to the
sound compression agreement and Sky TV, which also owns
Prime, said it would also comply, although it had not signed
TVNZ chief executive Kevin Kenrick said research on TV
viewing habits showed loud advertisements were the thing
people most disliked about watching TV.
That was bad for viewers and advertisers.
In terms of decibels, the adverts are not louder than the
programmes, but compression makes them sound that way and
stand out for viewers.
Networks have played down the effect, and even now the
free-to-air broadcasters' body Think TV maintains viewers are
But a 2008 Auckland University study commissioned by the
Herald found viewers thought advertisements sounded 50 per
cent louder than programmes.
The problem was worst when viewers were blasted by a
compressed ad immediately after subtle dramatic programme
Mr Kenrick said technology had improved, and as a result of
Sunday's change the transition between adverts and
programming would be smoother.
TVNZ spokeswoman Megan Richards said: "Our only concern is
that the impact might not be as big as some viewers expect."
Association of New Zealand Advertisers chief executive
Lindsay Mouat said the change was not a problem for the
"The vast number of advertisers will not be concerned about
the change," he said.
"It will reduce complaints about advertising, and that will
be good for everybody. If people had to shout, you have to
question if the ads were not very good."
Advertising agency veteran David Walden said the problem with
shouting ads had worsened as the number of commercials
brought in from Australia had increased.
People shouting in lower-cost adverts had a negative effect
on more sophisticated advertising made by agencies.
Many ad agencies had sought restrictions over several years,
But Think TV chief executive Rick Friesen said there had been
The issue came up in the last election, when Labour made
correction of the problem one of its broadcasting policies.
Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman said the industry was
in the process of dealing with the issue and Labour's policy
was not relevant.
TV3 owner MediaWorks was yesterday caught unaware by TVNZ's
decision to bring forward the restriction on loud
- John Drinnan