back to article Ofcom slaps Channel 5 for loud PlayStation ads

With talk of a next-gen console, revamps to PSN and a spanking new handheld on the way, Sony has been making a lot of noise lately. Not quite in the same way its advertising campaign for PS3 has, though. UK broadcaster Channel 5 has been slapped on the wrist by watchdog Ofcom after 17 viewers complained that PlayStation 3 …


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  1. Michael Habel Silver badge


    I wish these regulatory bodies would do more to combat this kind of noise pollution.

    It's always annoying that these Broadcasters always push those Ads as "12" when they show the Programs around "8-9".

    It almost makes me wish I had One of those old Magnavox's of the early 90's that had the in-built Volume Leveler built in to combat this kind of BS.

    Makes me wonder why the Industry still hasn't made this a standard yet.

  2. Flugal

    Loud ads

    All channels do this for, seemingly, most ads. I guess they are trying to reach you when you're taking a mid-show slash or making a brew. Presumably their research shows it works or they wouldn't bother.

    Complaining about it all sounds a bit First World woes though.

  3. Anonymous Coward


    What is the penalty for not complying ? The revenue from the ads ? Oh no, Channel 5 will just take Sir Humphrey out for lunch at his favourite club.

    OfCom - under performing, over paid civil servants

  4. tanj666
    Thumb Up

    Hate channels with adverts anyway

    Well done Ofcon, oops, Ofcom, siding with the people for once.

    To be honest, I don't watch very much on commercial channels anyway, when I do it's generally been recorded. The reason? Loud, annoying adverts.

    Given that amongst the people I know, I am not alone in this why doesn't the TV and advertising industry realise that they're massive turn off to viewers.

    A certain insurance comparison site will never be visited by me for instance thanks to the severe annoyance caused by their TV adverts.

  5. Da Weezil

    Not a new issue.

    Many channels have upped the volume during ad breaks for some years now. I complained when I found I was unable to watch late night tv without members of my household being disturbed by the louder ad breaks. At the time OFCOM rejected the issue saying the ads fell within parameters that they work to.

    What happens now is that ad breaks are routinely muted... which means they don't get heard at all so counter productive by the industry. Given the poor soundproofing in many UK homes broadcasters should be closely monitored for breaches of this type. The advertising industry really does need reigning in.

    1. The BigYin

      Dear Ofcom,

      In that case I recommend you change your parameters.

      Yours sincerely,

      Your employer.

      1. Da Weezil


        To simplify the situation as OFCOM explained it in their cop out... sorry that should be.... reply to my complaint, shows are often broadcast at a level below the maximum permitted, leaving "headroom" for an increase in Volume. What we need as a solid legislation that forbids ANY raising of audio volume levels during breaks.... oh and a regulator that doesn't belong to the castrate class.

  6. Ragarath

    Not only channel 5

    All the channels do it and they do it because no one is likely to complain. The regulators should be reviewing this constantly not leaving it up to "when people complain".

    Sky channels are extremely bad at this and I regularly have to turn the volume down during ads (when they are not pre recorded and I can skip them) to save my ears.

    1. BoldMan


      Stargate Universe seemed to be particularly affected by this on Sky 1 - TV Volume turned up to 35+to hear programme, ads come on and eardrums rupture from noise of adverts! Thankfully the V+ fast forward allows me to skip the ads since I no longer watch stuff on Sky live because of this.

  7. James Hughes 1

    Always annoyed me

    How the advert are almost always louder than the programs they surround. What's the point of being woken up for the adverts?

    Anyway, its all so counterproductive. I either change channels or turn the volume down - either way, I don;' pay any further attention to the adverts.

  8. Loyal Commenter Silver badge


    The ads aren't allowed to be louder than the programme? Seems to me that this rule is routinely broken.

  9. durandal

    I rofld

    when the yanks proposed legislation, and it suddenly became a free speech issue.

    I'm all for it, personally. I'd be quite happy if my TV could detect the ad-breaks and auto-mute them.

    /mine's the one with the manky earplugs in the pocket

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ad detection

      It's interesting that MythTV for example has been able to detect and remove or skip ad breaks for years now and yet whenever I mention it to people they are always surprised that this is something that can be done. I suggest it is pressure from the advertising industry which stops companies from putting ad detection in their PVRs which are more than capable of doing it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Yep, indeed. My pvr doesnt even record ads - it pauses the recording during breaks, and my tv auto levels the audio anyway, so I never really noticed that this is still a problem. And this isn't like the latest kit. Both are over 5 years old.

  10. Gadget Rage is BAD

    Channel 4/E4

    Do this ALL the time with the little sponsors things at ad breaks. Never heard of anyone complain about them.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Waking the dead

    I wonder if Ofcom can also slap Sky One for their ridiculously loud continuity announcers.

  12. SteveBalmer

    Really don't see the point of this "news"

    because it very tenuously mentions Sony (not that they really has much to do with this, and it seems it's more upto the broadcaster).

    I know El-Reg love to write about anything that involves Sony of late, but this really is grasping at desperate straws.

    1. Fisher39

      No, its because

      MICROSOFT EMPLOYEES MADE THE COMPLAINTS. Can't you see it? It's obvious. Microsoft employees are complaining to discredit Sony becuse of all the XBoxers moving to the Playstation.

      See... here's the proof:



  13. The BigYin

    All channels do this

    Whether it's because the tone of the ads is different or something, but they always sound louder.

    "...let her go now, she has passed on to the other side. Her spirit shall drift in eternal bliss with the cosmos. She is finally at peace.



    If you pre-record and only watch time-shifted you can simply skip the ads. Or use something like MythTV.

  14. Stephen 5

    As others have said...

    The ALL do this, and if this is against regulation then it needs to be enforced against all channels.

    Personally I like to skip to another channel when adverts come on.

    1. teebie

      I think it follows Dara O'Brien's model of the 3 levels of legality

      Ideally all channels would keep the advert volume at the same level as the programmes', and they would get a "that's grand".

      In practice they tend to up the volume a few decibels, but not far enough to cause an outpouring of complaints - that's a "don't push it"

      Channel 5 took it too far with these adverts, we into "now you're taking the piss" territory.

      I welcome this ruling, and look forward to 2 or 3 months of things being slightly better.

  15. Natalie Gritpants

    Please Ofcom mandate some signalling around breaks

    I don't care how you do it (mpeg stream meta-data, blank video frames, beeps, subtitles). Then I can program MythTV to cut them all out.

    1. The BigYin

      I thought...

      ...MythTV could already do this? Or does it only work in the USA?

      Must say that ads are one reason that I rearely watch live TV any more. Record and then 32x FF when the dross shows up.

  16. steogede

    I'm not the only one then?

    I am quite surprised that this is not allowed - it must challenge the speed limit for the most broken rule/law. My telly even has a feature to level the volume of ad breaks, but it doesn't work very well. Besides which many adverts are too annoying at any volume level (e.g. anything to do with insurance or loan sharks or cash for gold or banking or no win no fee). I will always reach for the mute button if I am watching live TV.

    The worst thing is that the channels with the most adverts (i.e. subscription channels) tend to be the ones which get the lowest percentage of their income from adverts. I suspect the only reason they show adverts it to stretch the programming out and save costs (rather than actively make money).

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Happens all the time, that's marketing scum for you. Insert Bill Hicks quote etc.

    Much like the new scam to get round the TPS by classifying it as "research" for double fucking glazing. Absolute fucking lowlife these people, no better than spammers. Oh well, at least it's fun verbally abusing the wankers that work for them.

  18. jason 7

    Their own fault.

    All the main drama/tv shows we watch are all recorded so we rarely ever watch the adverts however, we do use the "Sponsored by" bits as markers for when to press play or if we've shuffled too far.

    The "SPONSORED BYYY RAGGGEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!" adverts during The Walking Dead were stupidly loud.

    I dont get the point of a lot of the advertising today.

    I dont like Poker, I dont like Bingo, I dont want to sell my old phone and I dont care what Jordan gets up to.

  19. Mage Silver badge


    It's worse. You can't mute advert breaks on Radio. Why don't radios have a "partial mute" button?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    TV Ads

    Unfortunately TV Ads are a necessary evil otherwise the commercial channels would be off the air and we'll be stuck with the BBC.

    This brings up a point for premium channels like Sky 1 which have adverts and you pay extra to watch. Sky should either be forced to broadcast Sky 1 for free or remove the Ads (or reduced the number of ads).

    1. AndrueC Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Not really.

      Just because you pay a subscription doesn't mean the channel doesn't need advertising. They are both useful sources of revenue. Reduce one and the other would increase. What I'm saying here is that if you banned adverts on pay TV the cost of pay TV would increase. Personally I'm willing to entertain the idea but I suspect most people would run a mile if they found out how much the subscription would have to rise to eradicate adverts on pay TV. That in turn would kill off the idea.

      It'd be interesting to know what the cost would be though. Double? Triple?

  21. Wize

    Anyone had any joy complaining of irritating adverts?

    When there is a particularly annoying advert on the radio, I change channel and don't bother with it till next annoying advert (or someone annoying on radio 1).

    Bit harder to do with TV when in the first break of a film.

    But if some TV channels stop they annoying adverts, they may get more advert viewers. Eg, I'm more likely to record CH5 (and fast forward through all the adverts) and watch a program on another channel 'live'.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

      Personally I just press the mute button when I come across an annoying or overly loud advert. Not all advertising is particularly obnoxious though, and some companies take the care to try and do a decent job.

      Perhaps one course of action is to point out to the 'good' advertisers that what happens when the annoying adverts come on is that no attention is paid to their adverts that come afterwards as the sound tends to only get switched back on at the end of the break?

      They would then have the choice of either continuing to waste time and money advertising alongsides the likes of Sports and Go Compare or to go elsewhere. With any luck the channels themselves might take the hint if it starts making a difference to their bottom line.

  22. Simon B

    MUTE - brought to you by channel 5

    Like others I use mute, channel 5 are worst for it imo.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A bit more complicated...

    It's actually a bit more complicated than just turning up the volume, as I understand it, what the advertisers do is compress the signal (increase the bass and high end) this results in there being more energy in the signal and it appearing to be louder to the listener. The problem is that electrically the maximum peaks don't change, thus making it very hard to detect.

    If the maximum specified volume level for the signal has been exceeded offcom can and do take action as this can affect other services, however it's difficult otherwise.

    1. Naughtyhorse

      need an intergral as opoposed to differential function m8

      that'll sort out compressors (easy to detect with the ears, once you know what it sounds like) look at the area under the curve as opposed to the peaks

      fyi compression is the application of a non linear gain, which is a function of signal ampllitude. this allows you to push top and bottom without running into distortion - for a laugh look at _any_ prodigy track on a spectrum anyliser - completely flat at about -.5db from 20Hz to 20kHz - what makes you think it was mixed on a computer by someone with cloth ears :-D )

      like just about everyone else here i hardly ever watch live tv anymore - due to this problem.

      all advertising is bollocks anyway. lett em get on with it i say (anything that keeps that tit chris evans in a voiceover studio and off my bleedin radio, cant be all bad)

      many moons ago i had a video with a 'fast forward 30 seconds' button on it, great for ad skipping, would fit in just great on v+ sky+ etc etc

      (having watched '20 minutes into the future' again recently i'm getting a little concerned that ads are now being cut to subliminally program us when watched at 32 times normal speed - i mean you have to watch really hard to catch the re-start of whatever you are watching - so what use is being made of all that wasted attention?????

      I think we should be told...

      oh btw Buy cilit bang - it's fucking amazing :D

  24. JDX Gold badge


    Yes, things can seem louder without breaking the rules. C5 have evidently gone even further :)

    To those who say why have ads, or "I ignore them", well you are the minority. And in all probability, even you are still probably influenced by ads.

  25. AndrueC Silver badge

    People still watch adverts?

    PVRs have been available for a decade now. What's wrong with people?

  26. Deano2099

    As I understand it...

    There's a maximum volume that can't be exceeded. When you're making a drama or whatever, you pitch your regular volume at some level well below that average, so that when a car blows up or someone gets shot or whatever, you can increase the volume so it sounds correctly louder.

    When you're making an advert on the other hand, you don't need to be that subtle. You only need one volume so it may as well be the highest one you can get away with.

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