British Tinnitus Association
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Louder "background" music on tv

I have recently noticed how much louder the background music seems to have become on many tv films especially BBC productions. I have sent a complaint and await response from them indue course.

Here's copy of my complaint:

"Particularly relevant to BBC films which we certainly enjoy watching but we are becoming increasingly upset and frustrated by the "background" music in a lot of your films. It appears to have become more apparent over the last couple of years or more that we are now frequently struggling to hear the presenter's dialogue / commentary over and above the increasing volume and more dramatic "background" music. If we turn the volume down to reduce the level of background music we are then unable to hear the dialogue. As hearing problems such as tinnitus and hyperaccusis are becoming much more prevalent lately we do feel this issue of the louder and more dramatic background music needs to be addressed so that many more watchers can enjoy your films without fear of enhancing their tinnitus and make watching these films become are more unpleasant experience which is certainly what we are finding. I was prompted to send this message while watching Dan Cruickshank "Britains Great Palaces" and others in the series - but we have also been aware of this background music issue on many of the recent BBC films such as Neil Oliver's films and Coast films. "

I'd be interested to hear if others are being affected by this ...

4 Replies

Yes definitely, also some of the dialogue on some of the programmes

is mumbled and we give up and turn to another programme.

1 like

Hi again I have copied in here the reply from BBC for your interest... I appreciate it is difficult for them but felt it worth the effort to bring it to their attention and try raising their awareness of the effects of their productions and how it can aggravate us who suffer hearing problems, including tinnitus, which make us less able to enjoy their films...

"Thank you for contacting us regarding audibility in our programming.

We understand that some viewers and listeners have found it hard to hear dialogue clearly in our programmes. There appear to be a number of reasons for this, including mumbled and muffled voices, unfamiliar accents or a noisy environment. Others find that background music can be too loud or simply badly chosen. Naturally we regret the frustration this can cause.

It's difficult to strike the right balance between differing opinions on acceptable levels of noise and music. Similarly, programmes can often sound different in the editing suite compared with being viewed on an ordinary television set. Although producers can control many of the effects within the broadcasts they make themselves, other programmes are bought in and there is no straightforward way to vary background sound levels before they are shown.

I understand you feel the sound levels are particularly poor in BBC Films and you feel this is becoming increasingly worse. Many televisions and recording devices now have options whereby audio settings can be changed to a personal preference setting, or amended to suit the type of programme being viewed. There is usually a default setting for "music" or "speech" which enables viewers to adjust their televisions to make speech clearer.

Similarly, viewers with surround sound systems may be able to clarify speech by increasing the volume on the centre (dialogue) speaker whilst decreasing the volume on the surrounding channels (music and effects).

I have registered your concerns on our audience feedback report which will be seen by senior management across the BBC and relevant production teams.

These reports are among the most widely read sources of feedback in the BBC and ensures that your complaint has been seen by the right people quickly. This helps inform their decisions about current and future programmes.

Thanks again for taking the time to contact us.

Kind regards

Yvonne Wall

BBC Complaints Team

NB This is sent from an outgoing account only which is not monitored. You cannot reply to this email address but if necessary please contact us via our webform quoting any case number we provided.


Well done for contacting them and putting up their reply.

Love glynis


Yes i have noticed this too and it does spoil some of the programmes as its hard to hear what there saying, which when youve got whistling going on already makes it even harder. I hope you get a satsfactory explaination from the bbc. Lesley