Showing a remarkable adeptness at multitasking, Congress is talking about curbing loud TV commercials.
The House has passed a bill doing just that, and a similar bill has been drawn up for the Senate's consideration.
The House bill would require all local stations, cable and satellite TV operators to follow the now-voluntary volume-limiting guidelines of the digital TV standards group.
Don't get too excited. We know it's something you've probably wanted for a long time, but getting Congress on your side may not mean all that much.
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Remember, this can be interpreted as a free speech issue, which could bring the Supreme Court into it.
You remember the Supreme Court -- those benighted worthies who say that when it comes to political speech, a hundred dollar bill has the same rights as an American citizen.
So a decision against turning down the volume on commercial speech might get a withering reception from those nine.
And, according to an MSNBC website, it's not exactly the volume of the ads that is the problem.
It's a lot of volume(s). No pun intended.
If you've ever had a real hearing test, you know that hearing problems aren't just a matter of a single range of hearing. There are many frequencies involved, giving rise to the old saw about men having good hearing except in the range that most women speak.
Complaints have been voiced about TV ad loudness ever since televisions began proliferating in the 1950s. In 1984, the FCC concluded there was no fair way to write regulations controlling the "apparent loudness" of commercials.
Why the quotation marks around "apparent loudness?"
MSNBC tells us that commercials aren't any louder than TV programs, but every frequency range of the commercials is turned up as high as the law allows. And yes, there is a law limiting the top individual noise levels of television programming and commercials.
And there's situational loudness.
Say you're watching a romantic movie that shows a couple lit by firelight, murmuring quietly to each other and wham! Suddenly you're getting a shouting pitchman selling some product available only on TV and only for the next 30 minutes.
It can spoil a mood.
So if Congress can come up with a Supreme Court-proof law against loud TV commercials, we're all for it.
But that is one big IF.