CALM Bill Will, at Long Last, Stop Loud Commercials

Man reacts to loud noiseSudden loud noises are irritating because they stimulate our fight-or-flight instinct, so it's no wonder that the FCC fields thousands of complaints each year about commercials that are much louder than the television shows in which they appear. Now, at long last, our federal government has passed a law to stop loud commercials.

On Friday, Congress approved the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) act. This bill calls upon the FCC to adopt new industry sound regulations in 2011 and enforce them beginning in 2012.The U.S. will not be the first to impose such restrictions, though. Britain, France, Russia, Israel and Australia already do.

Heretofore, advertisers were required to keep maximum volume below that of the loudest sound in the television show the ad appeared in. If there was a single loud sound, such as an explosion, in that show, the surrounding ad could be cranked up to that same level. Now, the volume will be restricted to a level calculated to take into account speech volume, high and low tones and sound spikes.

The problem of overly loud commercials has become worse with the advent of digital television, causing a sharp uptick in complaints to the FCC.

This story was updated on Friday December 3 to reflect the passage of the CALM act by Congress.

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