MITCHELL: Sounds of silence

I must confess I used to watch Young and The Restless on TV a couple decades ago. Actually personally I preferred Another World but they cancelled that and I still lay awake at nights worrying what ever happened to Mac and Rachel?

Actually I don’t but I thought I would impress you with obscure soap opera references from 40 years ago. Maybe impress is not the right word, however.

Anyway, back to my point, sort of, my grandmother used to watch Y&R and when I visited her in Delta I would sometimes watch it with her and we’d bond a bit. She’d comment about ‘her boyfriend’ Victor and the no-good Nikky (they’re still there by the way, I noticed while channel surfing the other day) and I’d laugh.

But the real reason I bring this up, you knew there had to be a reason, is that she hated television commercials so much she’d press mute everytime they came on and we’d chat or just quietly watch the advertising mayhem in silence.

It was fine and I was OK with it, and it’s yet another reason why you should advertise in the newspaper and not on TV, he said as a self-serving aside to plug his livelihood. You can’t mute print ads.

However on  more than a few occasions her mind would wander in the silence or she’d actually fall asleep during the commercial quiet time and I’d be sitting there watching silent moving pictures, not wanting to wake her up, waiting for her to eventually regain consciousness. And she would, giggle, and apologize and usually say something like “well, it’s not like we missed too much anyway,” and of course I’d laugh with her and agree wholeheartedly, after all it was a soap opera.

Well, she’s in heaven now where the soap operas are sublime, likely with no interruptions at all.

Funnily enough though, another important woman in my life likes to turn down the volume on the television when the ads come on. My wife often says, “they’re so loud.”

And you know what? She’s right.

Which brings me to my point, more than halfway through the column some of you might note, they are actually louder and the good folks at Canada’s broadcasting regulator are trying to do something about it.

According to a story in The Vancouver Sun this week, the chairman of the CRTC, his name is Konrad von Finckenstein by the way, has engaged Canadians with a public consultation on the problem of ads being broadcast at a much louder volume than the programs and he called it a significant annoyance.

Hear, hear, so to speak.

And you have until April 18 to state your views on the problem on the CRTC website.

And it’s even getting political.

Some MP named Nina Grewel, from some place called Fleetwood-Port Kells (Nova Scotia, perhaps?), has introduced Bill C-621 which would force broadcasters to ensure commercials aren’t any louder than the shows we’re trying to enjoy.

And you thought they weren’t doing anything on our behalf in the nation’s capital?

Apparently they’re discussing the issue in March so if you’re concerned contact your local MP soon, cause there’s this budget thing that may or may not spark an election and then we’re all hooped.

Hey, maybe we can make it an election issue – you know “Support C-621 or we’ll turn down your volume,” or something similarly catchy.

And in case, for some reason, you think this is much ado about nothing, there are actual rules against broadcasting commercials at higher levels in both the U.S. and the U.K. But not here.

We’re the ones with the problem that needs addressing. Contact your MP. Write the CRTC. Pump up the volume on lowering the volume people. And if this campaign catches on, if it’s OK with Konrad and Nina, I’m naming it in honour of my grandma.