Noise News for Week of October 20, 1996

Noise Pollution Invades Airport Departure Gates

DATE: October 26, 1996
BYLINE: Adam Hochschild
DATELINE: San Francisco, California

In this opinion piece, author Adam Hochschild decries the lack of quiet in airport departure gates. For Hochschild, the sources of noise pollution are the continuously sounding television sets, mounted out of reach of anyone who would like to turn off the sound. Hochschild believes he is not alone in feeling annoyed by "force-fed TV," citing those travelers who would like to talk, read or work while waiting for their flights. He believes unwanted noise should be regulated. In public places, Hochschild likens the unwanted noise from TV to the pollution from cigarette smoke. But, the author notes that the noise from unwanted TV can't be sucked away like cigarette smoke by a good ventilation system. Many communities place restrictions on noise from jet skis, leaf blowers and snowmobiles. What about regulating the unwanted noise from television sets? With special rooms or designated areas for smokers, why not a special room in airports for TV watchers?

According to Hochschild, televisions are installed at more than 1,000 gates in more than 25 major American airports. Who is being served here? Hochschild asks. According to him, big money is made from the commercials these televisions show. "Millions in advertising dollars get divided among the three parties involved in the venture: the airport, the airline whose gate is being used and the CNN Airport Network, which provides the programming." Exasperating to Hochschild, "Airport TV is zap-proof. You can't turn it off. You're part of a captive audience."

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