Shhh! FCC to Enforce Law Banning Loud TV Commercials

FCC to enforce law banning loud television commercialsOnline advertising is growing faster, but television still consumes most of the industry's money -- globally, $6.50 out of every $10 spent. But in the United States, TV advertisers are going to have to work more quietly.

On Wednesday, the Federal Communications Commission announced plans to implement the 2010 Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act -- aka the CALM Act -- in which Congress gave the commission, for the first time, authority to address the problem of excessive commercial loudness," according to an FCC press release.

"The rules adopted today require that commercials have the same average volume as the programs they accompany," the FCC explained. "They carry out Congress' mandate to give viewers relief from overloud commercials while avoiding unnecessary burdens on television stations and MVPDs [multichannel video programming distributors]."

For years, the message from TV watchers has been loud and clear. "The Commission has received almost 6,000 complaints or inquiries about loud commercials since 2008," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement. "So I'm pleased that we have crafted a process that will protect consumers from inappropriately loud commercials, while remaining sensitive to resource constraints of small broadcasters and subscription TV providers." It will be the job of broadcasters, cable and telecommunications companies, satellite and other TV providers to ensure that the volume doesn't spike when programming gives way to commercial interruption.

In a separate statement, Commissioner Robert M. McDowell said that TV commercials "will never be the same," mentioning in particular the hyper-vocal pitches for OxyClean, ShamWow!, and HeadOn.

Although he offered general support for the FCC's efforts, McDowell expressed reservations about some of the rules being adopted. Specifically, he said that the FCC might be exceeding its legislative mandate in making broadcasters and MVPDs "ultimately liable for passing through loud, embedded commercials by programmers -- over which broadcasters and MVPDs have no control and we [the FCC] have no jurisdiction." He also said it is possible to interpret the language of the CALM Act "as providing the Commission authority to regulate the volume of commercials, but not promos." Promos -- advertisements promoting television programming -- were not exempted from the FCC's rules.

"I am unsure whether we are getting the legislative intent right," McDowell concluded, "but I remain hopeful."

Unfortunately, the rules don't go into effect until next December -- leaving us all to face another 12 months of intermittent blaring from loudmouthed pitchmen, actors playing sick people, and talking animals.

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Jay Lo

The CALM act is something that the FCC should have passed long ago. The loud commercials have always been a pain. I don’t like to watch TV and have my finger on the mute button. Now I know I can enjoy more TV with out TV blaring when there's a commercial. The FCC is not the only person making steps to fixing this annoying issue. DISH has the new Hopper which has built in TruVolume technology which will prevent annoying volume changes. This is a sweet DVR loaded with awesome features and I just had the change at work yesterday to see one in a demo with coworkers. I like that I will have access to Pandora, and I can check out Facebook. Being able to record three shows at the same time and manage the TV DVR list from any TV. 250 hours of HD gives plenty of time for recordings without having to delete as often. I can’t wait to upgrade my account.

January 14 2012 at 1:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Why does it take twelve months for these idiots to turn down the volume on their commercials?

December 31 2011 at 4:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

WDAF ch 4 tv in Kansas City is REAL bad about loud commericals and their programming you can hardlly hear!!!!!!

December 20 2011 at 7:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Wonderful!!! Now I wish someone would ban the horrible music you are forced to listen to on the phone!
Especially while you are holding on for the Pharmacy. And the phone companies are no better they are awful.
I think they do it on purpose so you hang up. The sci fi has got to go. Give me some soft Rock with beautiful words. Love songs:) Nothing but Love songs:)

December 20 2011 at 3:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

People still watch television?

December 19 2011 at 3:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

We have been muting commercials for years, and playing 'guess the product'. Usually it's a car, whether it's with naked girls or famous athletes. Try makes watching any show in 'real time' much more fun!

December 19 2011 at 12:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mary Carrillo

thank goodness. I hate loud commercials, especially since my husband sleeps with the TV on.

December 19 2011 at 11:46 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

It's about high time the FCC enforced an already active law. it is very unnerving to go from program to commercial and have your ears blown out by something that you neither want nor need in the first place. I personally find television commercials invasive. if I want or use a product, it is because it works or I need it, not because of their advertising. While I find some commercials entertaining...most are extremely annoying. I think they should invent a program that makes all tvs self-mute during any and all commercials. Thay way, if I want to watch one, I can raise the volume myself and not have the advertiser do it for me.

December 19 2011 at 10:53 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Our taxes pay for the FCC's existence so I'm hardly in the mood to thank them, especially for something that the agency ought to have corrected decades ago. In fact, it had, several times. But networks and advertisers have lobbyists, too, so expect screaming commercials to return in cycles throughout your viewing pleasure. Democracy works best when squeaky wheels form a constituency. And, the article mentions six thousand complaints since 2008. Ridiculous. That figure is much too low. I must've e-mailed at least a thousand in the past decade. And why does it take a year for a Congressional Mandate to take effect? More lobbyists, of course. I wonder if democracy and capitalism are really a good fit. Representative democracy may be old paradigm. We have computers at home. Instead of listening to all these politicians prattle -- as I'm doing now, sorry -- why don't we vote on legislation at home instead of blah-blah blogging and writing these useless editorials. Direct democracy. It's time. Turn the capitol building into a legislation museum in our age of brinkmanship. Isn't that what it is now? But I digress.

December 18 2011 at 7:15 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Way to go, FCC! Thank you!

December 16 2011 at 8:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply