Cox Officials Outline Cause of Loud Commercials Amid Complaints

In response to the discussion of overamped commercials appearing on Cox cable, General Sales Manager of Cox Media West Texas Randy Anderson forwarded me what appears to be an e-mail from Cox Technical Operations Manager for Cox Media Central Group Jeff Blaszak outlining the cause of the problem.

It appears Cox officials have received several complaints about the issue, and may be prepared to take action if the problem persists.

Here is the full version of the communique:

—–Original Message—–

From: Blaszak, Jeff (CMI-College Station)

Sent: Wednesday, February 02, 2005 5:48 PM

To: Anderson, Randy (CMI-Lubbock); LaFreniere, Larry (CCI-Lubbock);

Linton, John (CCI-Lubbock)

Subject: RE: Re: General Questions

Randy –

I know we keep saying this but it really is true. All of our

commercials are technically the same volume. By technically I am

referring to the fact that every spot peaks at the same level when we

encode it. Some spots have a more apparent loudness because of the

fidelity of the spot. Spots with better produced audio (typically Cox,

Network promos, and Car dealers) have compressed frequencies which make

them sound louder (like pressing the loudness button on your stereo)

than certain programming and other spots even tough on the audio meter

they still peak at the same volume level.

There may also be a problem with fluctuating audio levels in the headend

(although we may already be controlling this with automatic gain control

devices). If the network or program is quieter all of our spots will

sound louder in comparison. The Headend Techs are typically pretty good

at keeping audio levels on the networks even day to day, network to

network.

If you believe there is a problem with audio levels on a specific spot

or the audio levels on all spots on a particular network these are

indicators of problems that can be fixed. It might be a good idea to

record cable networks that you think may have a problem so that we can

hear the variations and determine what can be done.

If you have received three complaints already, it is certainly worth

investigating.

—–Original Message—–

From: Anderson, Randy (CMI-Lubbock)

Sent: Wednesday, February 02, 2005 3:43 PM

To: LaFreniere, Larry (CCI-Lubbock); Linton, John (CCI-Lubbock);

Blaszak, Jeff (CMI-College Station)

Subject: FW: Re: General Questions

This is the third one of these I’ve gotten in the last few weeks.

I brought this up some time back, and it was concluded that nothing

could be identified that was causing this.

As many times as it is being pointed out, I have to think there are a

lot more people who notice it but aren’t inquiring about it, and I often

notice it myself. I can attest to the fact that it is often car dealer

spots, and I think people jump to the conclusion that they (the car

dealers) or we are purposefully trying to do it to help “sell cars”.

I get that speech from my father-in-law every time we’re together

watching TV, whether at his house or my house.

How can we identify where the problem is here?

Anderson’s observations regarding the car dealers is significant. It would seem that overamped volume would only result in viewers turning down the commercial, or changing the channel entirely — instances that are counterproductive to the goal of advertising to begin with to say the least.

Cox Comm Responds to Allegations of Volume Hyping

Here is Cox’s response to this post:

We as a cable company have no control over the television feed that specific channels send to us. We recommend that you contact your local television channels on this issue. If you need contact information for some of the cable channels, we will be more than happy to assist you.

But wouldn’t Cox have some control over how it’s commercial is presented? I want to find out, so I asked this:

Commercials advertising Cox services (cable and highspeed internet) run at a disturbingly louder volume than other commercials. Has Cox been in any communication with broadcasters who feed these commercials about this issue? It seems to me Cox would have some authority over how their commercials and their image is presented. Any insight would be of great benefit.

Check back to see how this develops.