At 43 years old, I can hear the sound a little bit, at least through the headphones I'm wearing right now. It doesn't sound very loud to me, but it is annoying, like the high-pitched whine CRTs sometimes emit. I tried cranking up my volume to full, and although the sound still didn't seem very loud to me, and it certainly wasn't what I'd call painful, I'm left with the odd feeling that I've just had my ears blasted.
At this point, I'm not sure to what extent I was hearing the actual sound one is supposed to hear, or if I was just hearing some lower-frequency encoding noise. Headline News did a story about this a week or so ago. When I saw this on TV, and was sitting on the sofa listening through my B&W P6 speakers, I didn't hear a thing.
It could be that my hearing isn't good enough to hear any of this sound without the extra high-end boost headphones can provide, or without the clue of the extraneous noise. If I play music in iTunes at the same time I play the ringtone, the ringtone is pretty much lost on me -- if this was my ringtone I'd have to be in a damn quiet room to know that my phone was ringing.
But I also have my doubts that the TV demo was valid. According to the linked article, the ringtone is based on "an ultrasonic teenager repellent, an ear-splitting 17-kilohertz buzzer". Convential NTSC analog TV tops out at 15KHz for audio. I was watching via digital satellite TV, but as far as I know DirecTV is digitizing and rebroadcasting an analog feed of Headline News. Given many factors -- the studio sound equipment, analog elements in the broadcasting chain, digital compression of the audio which might drop such high frequencies -- there might not have been anything left for Headline News's viewers to hear, no matter how good their hearing.