Watchdog issues ruling on loud TV ads

Eight TV adverts shown during an episode of Sherlock Holmes were too loud, watchdogs ruled today.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the slots on digital channel ITV3 were "excessively strident" and breached the sound levels code.

It followed a complaint from a viewer that the adverts were excessively noisy compared to the surrounding programme material, reflecting a long-standing issue for some TV watchers.

ITV3 said the production style of the Sherlock Holmes series - which was made in the 1980s - was considerably different to modern dramas and ads.

The broadcaster also argued that there were many instances where the audio was nearly silent as the characters considered the mystery before them and incidental music was very much in the background.

It added that the scenes where characters argued and shouted were as loud as the loudest parts of the ads.

But the watchdog upheld a complaint from a viewer about eight adverts during a break, saying their volume was "not well matched to the overall sound levels of the programme".

It ruled: "We noted that the programme had a wide dynamic range, with periods of quiet suspense punctuated by short, louder bursts.

"We noted that the maximum subjective loudness of ads was consistent with other ads during the break, but that it was not well matched to the overall sound levels of the programme.

"Whilst we recognised that commercial breaks sometimes occurred during especially quiet parts of a programme, we nevertheless concluded that the ads were excessively strident and breached the code."

ASA told ITV3 the ads loudness "must not be excessive and must be more consistent with the surrounding programme material".

The watchdog has said complaints about noisy advertisements have gone down since rules were tightened up two years ago.