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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Regulators to Save Us from Loud TV Ads and Product Placements
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Couch potatoes of America, have no fear... Your friendly neighborhood super-regulators are about to swoop in and save you from the scourge of loud TV ads and "illegal" product placements! As we all learned in our high school Civics 101 classes, this is why the American Revolution was fought: We Americans have an unambiguous constitutional birthright to be free of the tyranny of "excessive loudness" during commercial breaks and pesky product promos during our favorite network dramas. (Seriously, it's right there in the footnotes to the Bill of Rights; you probably just missed it before.)

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) has the first problem covered. She and her House colleague Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) are proposing H.R. 6209, the "Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act." (Oh, isn't that so cute! The "C.A.L.M. Act"! How very, very witty.) The CALM Act would address "volume manipulation" in TV ads by making sure that TV ads are not "excessively noisy or strident." (Strident! We Americans hate "strident" ads.) The bill would empower regulators at the Federal Communications Commission to take steps to ensure that "such advertisements shall not be presented at modulation levels substantially higher than the program material that such advertisements accompany; and, the average maximum loudness of such advertisements shall not be substantially higher than the average maximum loudness of the program material that such advertisements accompany."

Clearly, this is valuable use of our regulators' time. I look forward to the day when I can visit the FCC and see my tax dollars at work as teams of bureaucrats closely monitor each episode of "Desperate Housewives" and "Swingtown" in search of such malicious volume manipulation during the commercial breaks. (Incidentally, where is the form I need to fill out to get that job? Heck, I'll take minimum wage pay to do this all day long.)

So, we can rest easier now know that lawmakers will take care of this egregious violation of our human rights. But what about the potential product placements in various TV dramas or comedies? Luckily, the folks at the FCC are on it. According to Reuters:

U.S. regulators are expected to take the first step this week that could rein in advertisers' growing use of product placements on television shows, two sources close to the agency told Reuters on Monday. The Federal Communications Commission will vote to study whether TV shows should carry more conspicuous notices informing viewers when advertisers paid to have food, automobiles and other products prominently displayed during programs, the sources said.

Thank God, our long national nightmare is over! Never again will we have to see another "Seinfeld" rerun where Jerry just stands there mocking our sensibilities with a Coca-Cola can in his hand! And thank God our regulators will be freeing us from the frightful sight of a Ford Mustang in the staring role of the remake of "Knight Rider." I mean, what an insult to the original K.I.T.T.! Have they no shame!

Apparently, the anti-product placement movement is a true "baptist and bootleggers" affair. This righteous crusade features a strange bedfellows coalition of Lefties and social conservatives who all hell-bent on saving us from the evils of commercial advertising. "We must not allow television programs to become Trojan horses, carrying messages that would otherwise be criticized by the public or even deemed illegal," wrote members of this coalition, which includes Public Citizen and the Parents Television Council. (Thank you Public Citizen and PTC for forcing us to spend our taxpayer money on this regulatory effort! I'm glad you're looking out for our best interests since most of us are not capable of doing so on our own.)

What remains unclear about both the CALM Act and the effort to regulate product placement, however, is how it conflicts with our other unambiguous constitutional right to all the free or cheap TV that we please! Someone needs to pay for all that content, after all, but it sure in hell ain't going to be us, right? I mean, how dare they subject to us to loud ads or product placements in an attempt to get us to pay attention to the ads we are busy skipping with our TiVos!

Evil, evil people in the media business, I tell you! Our benevolent leaders on high must save us from this scourge and put a stop to all this. And don't worry about the availability of free or cheap TV. It will continue to just fall like manna from heaven in our laps, without any commercial interruption. Or, if not, I guess we could always just watch commercial-free public television all day long. Yeah, that's the ticket... Bring on a 24/7 lineup of "Antiques Roadshow" and "Victory Garden," all gloriously free of the evils of commercialism that is corrupting of our fragile little minds!

We are so repressed. Down with commercialism! Down with capitalism! Down with THE MAN!

posted by Adam Thierer @ 3:24 PM | Generic Rant

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