RTÉ has agreed to comply with new volume guidelines for TV commercials (TVCs). The powers that be in the UK changed the specification in how broadcasters should accept copy for TVCs by producing new volume guidelines. The new spec created problems as RTE wanted to stick with the tried and trusted 12 frames mute option.

RTE head of operations, Paul Mulligan, says that from the tests they conducted they found 12 frames ensures higher quality as it means ads stand out from one another better. But Mulligan accepts that most advertisers appear to prefer the new spec of six frames mute and says the national broadcaster is willing to comply.

Emer Sands, who owns the Avenue 33 sound studio, says the contentious issue of 12 frames mute topping and tailing ads appears to have been sorted. The new spec means no ‘key audio’, such as the use of an actor’s voice in an ad, can show up in the first or last 12 frames. The first and last six frames must be completely silent.

Any white noise is rejected by the sound meter used by IMD Adsat, which distributes digital ad copy to broadcasters. The change gives advertisers an extra quarter second, so they get more bang for their buck. As regards ensuring TVCs and promos are broadcast at the same sound level as the programmes, the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) promotes a more sophisticated sound metering system known as R128.

Up to now, a mix at the right digital level could mean one ad might seem louder on air than another, simply due to the sound content and tone used. R128 tries to overcome the sound difference hurdle by making everything sound uniform. While RTE requires all TV ads to comply with the R128 system, they only recommend it for programmes already within spec.

Content created in-house by RTE does not have to be R128 compliant. As RTE historically saw promos as competing with TV ads, promos produced in-house didn’t have to comply. But RTE plans to monitor how promo volumes compare to TV ads and programmes. If they find there are major variations in volume outputs, they may make promos compliant. TG4 and UTV Ireland already comply with R128. While TV3 is reviewing it, it has no definite date for implementing it.

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By Expat