December 13, 2012

Whitehouse, Eshoo, & Industry Leaders Trumpet New Law to Stop High Volume Commercials

“Loud TV commercials have been among the most common consumer complaints to the FCC for decades now,” said Senator Whitehouse. “While this is a small issue compared to the big challenges facing our nation, it is an unnecessary annoyance in the daily lives of many Americans, and I’m glad to have done something about it.”

“Earsplitting television ads have jolted and annoyed viewers for decades,” Rep. Eshoo said. “With this new law, loud TV commercials that make consumers run for the mute button or change the channel altogether will be a thing of the past.”

“Broadcasters have taken the lead in addressing the complex technical challenges associated with this issue,” said Gordon Smith, President and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB). “NAB is pleased to work with Congresswoman Eshoo, Senator Whitehouse and the FCC as the CALM Act is implemented.”

“We thank Congresswoman Eshoo and Senator Whitehouse for enacting sensible legislation that will improve the consumer TV experience,” said Michael Powell, President and CEO of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association. “Our industry will continue to work closely with the FCC and the entire TV ecosystem to prevent loud commercials from being a disruption.”

“ATSC approved the recommended practice, ‘Techniques for Establishing and Maintaining Audio Loudness for Digital Television,’ known as A/85 in 2009,” said Mark Richer, President of the Advanced Television Systems Committee. “The CALM Act requires the FCC to mandate use of A/85 as the basis for regulation of commercial audio loudness. I want to thank Congresswoman Eshoo for her confidence in ATSC to provide the industry developed technical strategies necessary to control the audio loudness of commercial advertisements.”

Background:

Loud commercials have been a top consumer complaint to the FCC for decades and were listed as such in 21 of the FCC’s 25 quarterly reports between 2002 and 2009. According to a 2009 Harris poll, almost 90 percent of TV viewers are bothered by high commercial volumes, prompting 41 percent of viewers to turn down the volume, 22 percent to mute the TV, and 17 percent to change the channel altogether. Prior to Eshoo’s legislation, the official FCC policy recommended that consumers mute commercials if they found them to be excessively strident.

Rep. Eshoo first introduced the CALM Act in the House in June 2008. Senator Whitehouse’s companion bill passed the Senate unanimously on September 29, 2010 and the House passed the legislation on December 2, 2010. President Obama signed the legislation into law on December 15, 2010. The FCC passed its final rules implementing the law in December 2011.

An FCC consumer guide to the new provisions of the CALM Act can be found here.

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