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Turning up TV ads with data

I need to settle a long running argument as to whether the TV companies can turn up the volume of advertisements by altering the amount of data they “force” down the pipe (so to speak) into my set. Embarrassingly, I used to work as a transmission engineer for a TV station in Rome – so I should know this – but I don’t.
Written by Adrian Bridgwater, Contributor

I need to settle a long running argument as to whether the TV companies can turn up the volume of advertisements by altering the amount of data they “force” down the pipe (so to speak) into my set. Embarrassingly, I used to work as a transmission engineer for a TV station in Rome – so I should know this – but I don’t.

The theory… and the crux therefore of this data-related pub discussion. Is that they can’t actually turn the volume up, but that they can ‘compact’ the data packets that are transmitted down the line so that sound is richer, harder, heavier and basically, louder.

I stress, this is a pub-based tech theory and may hold very little water. But I can’t find solid proof.

Herb Weisbaum wrote a piece on this last year on his MSNBC pages. Interestingly, he quotes CNET’s own Brian Dooley who talks about “perceived loudness.”

Weisbaum himself says, “They want to grab your attention. To do that, the audio track is electronically processed to make every part of it as loud as possible within legal limits.”

Maybe they are compacting data, maybe they are post-production processing it, maybe they’re just actually physically turning the sound up – either way, I’m switching channels or making a cup of tea.

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