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editorial

TV ads: Quiet end to shouty sponsors

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Network television’s most jarring tradition — those shouty ads that sounded many decibels louder than the shows they interrupted — came to a quiet end Thursday, as a federal law called the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act took effect with little controversy. What’s notable is that, by the time Congress acted upon the scourge of loud ads, the phenomenon had already stopped being much of a problem. In the age of digital video recorders, people who think ads are too loud, or merely too distracting from the plot of a network show, can just zip on through them.

To stave off the fast-forward button, sponsors are craftily placing ads featuring well-known actors during the shows in which they normally appear. They’re also working outright product placements into scripts. After one particularly garish plug for Verizon during a 2007 episode of the comedy “30 Rock,” Tina Fey looked straight into the camera and asked, “Can we have our money now?”

Some viewers may come to look back fondly on the days of loud ads; at least one commentator waxed nostalgic Thursday that there’s no longer anything to wake you up when you doze off in front of the TV. From now on, the issue isn’t that the ads stand out from the shows they support, but that they fit in all too well.

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