Asking Censors to Keep Advertising ‘Calm’ Is Still Censorship

uncle_sam_censorWhen the government tells someone to shut up, we call it censorship and the First Amendment requires the government to defend its regulation. But what if the government just says, “Shhhh… could you please turn that down?”

Rep. Anna Eshoo’s Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act (HR 1084) would do just that: require the FCC to issue rules that broadcast and cable TV ads:

(1) … shall not be excessively noisy or strident;

(2) … shall not be presented at modulation levels substantially higher than the program material that such advertisements accompany; and

(3) [that their] average maximum loudness…  shall not be substantially higher than the average maximum loudness of the program material that such advertisements accompany.

I understand Congresswoman’s Eshoo’s concern. Fortunately, nature has equipped me with a remote which allows me to a) mute loud ads; b) change the channel; c) turn off the television, unplug it, hide it in a cabinet and do better things for myself…..such as write on this blog.

For a great gift idea, see our post on the universal off remote, TV-B-Gone .

If the state can regulate the stridency of speech on broadcast television, what’s to stop them from regulating your speech more broadly? Representative Eshoo’s bill already proposes that the FCC should regulate volume on cable, which is a private medium financed by subscribers. There’s only a small step from regulating private content arriving for cable television to the Internet feed often arriving on the very same cable for one’s computer.

Broadcasters and advertisers should be able to make private choices in how to present content. This is especially true where the medium is privately financed. Of course, audiences can decide to listen to them, or not. And cable subscribers can decide to pay, or not.

If you don’t like loud ads, there are responses which range from a complaint to Tivo, to hitting the mute button, to abandonment. I’d offer that the hand of the marketplace is preferable to that of the censor.

People who value free speech recognize their rights extend to commercial speech, and that censorship is no more desirable on advertisers than advocates.

1 Response to "Asking Censors to Keep Advertising ‘Calm’ Is Still Censorship"

  • battery-stores

    May 21, 2010

    Your article is good, I like it very much!
    Your point is very positive.

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