September 30, 2010

Whitehouse Bill to Stop Excessively Loud TV Commercials Passes in Senate

Washington, DC – The Senate has passed legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) that would require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to regulate the volume of television advertisements. The Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act of 2009 (S. 2847), co-sponsored by Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY), would fix a problem that vexes many television viewers—when commercials are many times louder than the regular program they are viewing.

“Every American has likely experienced the frustration of abrasively loud television commercials,” said Whitehouse. “While this may be an effective way for ads to grab attention, it also adds unnecessary stress to the daily lives of many Americans. Last night’s action in the Senate will help end this annoying practice.”

“As Chairman of the Commerce Committee, I have made it a top priority to protect American consumers,” Rockefeller said. “That is why I am pleased the Senate took action to pass the CALM Act. This common sense bill will make sure advertisers can’t just blast advertisements at consumers at unbearable volume levels.”

“It’s about time we turned down the volume on loud commercials that try to startle TV watchers into paying attention. This is a simple step that will keep ads at the same decibel level as the programs they are interrupting. TV viewers should be able to watch their favorite programs without fear of losing their hearing when the show goes to a commercial,” Schumer said.

The FCC has received consumer complaints about commercials being louder than television shows since the 1960s. Of 25 quarterly reports on consumer complaints released by the FCC after 2002, 21 listed the loudness of television commercials as a top complaint. Last year Consumers Union, the nonprofit organization that publishes Consumer Reports, stated in testimony before the House of Representatives, “the CALM Act provides an elegant and common sense solution to finally ending a forty-five year consumer complaint in the United States.”

The CALM Act was also cosponsored by Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Claire McCaskill (D-MO). The bill now goes to the House of Representatives, which passed similar legislation last December.

Representative Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA) introduced the companion legislation in the House. Today, Eshoo said “I introduced the original version of the CALM Act two and a half years ago with one goal in mind: to give the control of sound back to the consumer, where it belongs. I’m thrilled that today we’re just one step away from sending this commonsense consumer bill to the President for his signature. I’m grateful to Senators Whitehouse and Rockefeller for shepherding the CALM Act through the Senate and I look forward, both as a sponsor of the bill and as a consumer, to finally passing it into law.”


Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921