Clean Audio on Television
A sizeable and persistent problem
In light of the fact that consumers keep mentioning the problem of background audio on a regular basis, it is already clear that this practice remains controversial and unloved by many. Furthermore, with millions of EU citizens touched by hearing loss, and in light of the fact that even mild hearing loss noticeably impacts the ability to discern speech from background, it is clear that a large number of viewers face stark access and enjoyment barriers.
Amongst the evidence that background audio is a sizeable and persistent problem, are the following:
- The BBC’s "Points of View" programme typically tackles the background noise issue three or four times a year
- When the BBC ran a short trial in which a clean audio sound track could be accessed by pressing the red button, many people contacted the BBC to ask for more such programmes
- Surveys by organisations for people with hearing loss confirm again that background noise on TV is a problem for a large portion of them
- The former Independent Television Commission received so many complaints from viewers that it funded research by the University of Salford
- A few years ago, the Dutch public broadcaster NOS introduced a new look and feel for their news broadcasts, involving quite prominent background music behind the narrative. Subsequently, NOS received a great amount of complaints about this on their message boards. NOS then took action to reduce the background audio to more acceptable levels.
It is also worth mentioning that this is not a new problem, rather one that is longstanding and that awareness of it at least goes back to the time of the BBC Mathers report in the early 90s.
Next: Possible solutions