Freedom from Earsplitting Ads: The CALM Act Goes Into Effect

CALM Act Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation After 12 months of waiting for the rules to go into effect, Americans will finally begin to enjoy the benefits of the CALM Act, which takes effect today.

CALM is an acronym for Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation. Congress passed the law -- which requires the Federal Communications Commission to regulate the volume of television advertisements, preventing them from being louder than the programs they accompany -- in September 2010. One year ago, the FCC announced plans to implement the law.

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) told The Wall Street Journal that the CALM Act was the most popular bill she had sponsored during 18 years in Congress: "If I'd saved 50 million children from some malady, people would not have the interest that they have in this."

"The Commission has received almost 6,000 complaints or inquiries about loud commercials since 2008," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said last year. "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."

Broadcasters, as well as cable providers and satellite operators, will be responsible for ensuring that the decibel level doesn't spike when the Pillsbury Doughboy, Tony the Tiger, or any of GEICO's myriad pitchmen comes onscreen. (FCC Commissioner Robert M. McDowell called out the high-decibel pitches of OxyClean, ShamWow!, and HeadOn, declaring that TV advertising "will never be the same.") Viewers can report suspected violations of the CALM Act to the FFC on its website.

An attempt to address the problem of earsplitting ads in 1984 failed when regulators concluded there was no objective determinant of loudness. Years of "auditory analysis, mathematical modeling and international debate" followed, according to the Journal, culminating in the setting of rules by the International Telecommunication Union. Australia, Brazil, France, Israel and Russia moved to outlaw excessively loud commercials, while a trade group of British broadcasting advertisers began to self-police: "Advertisers don't want viewers to hit mute," their spokeswoman explained.

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This law is worthless. It's been in effect for 3 weeks and super loud commercials are still on, especially on BBC America, Cartoon Network & H2.

January 02 2013 at 1:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I hate internet ads

December 14 2012 at 11:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What a band-aid... Worthless. Can someone address the increase in ad minutes into a normal program on a cable channel? It seems that we have six minutes of program, followed by six minutes of the commercials. Try this, count the minutes of (often repeated) commercials to which you are subjected on a cable channel: Count the length of the program. Compare. Now, when they start this flooding, I leave the room, knowing that I have five minutes of time to get something else started (or accomplished) before the program resumes. Perhaps Congress should mandate a countdown window in the screen to tell consumers whent the program resumes and the ads stop??

December 14 2012 at 1:55 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to phd's comment

I agree. I tape a lot of shows so I can skip the ads. A 1 hour show can be seen in 36 minutes. Disgusting.

December 14 2012 at 3:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm in favor of this. I live on the middle floor of a triple decker and my hours are such that a lot of my TV viewing is when the folks on the other floors are sleeping.
I've had to watch tv with the remote in hand because....... The volume setting I had on for a movie is not NEARLY low enough for the "Sham-Wow" commercial.

I try to be a good neighbor, but... The movie I could barely hear is interspersed with blaring commercials.

It's like driving a stick shift in city traffic. ( 1st,2nd,3rd gear, back to 1st etc) : Set volume at 21. re-set volume to 11. Back to 21 or 22 to hear dialogue, then several minutes later, back to 10 or 11.
Ever watch "Cash Cab?" When the program returns from a break, it's BLARING music enough to wake neighbors down the street !
Headphones are not an option. I live alone... Should the phone ring, or someone ring the doorbell, or the smoke alarm go off, I wouldn't hear any of those.

December 14 2012 at 1:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Those of you who consider this to be a useless law must be TOTALLY deaf. I am so glad that it will finally go into effect. And yes, it truly is a nusaince to continually adjust the volume. Not only has the audio level changed between showtime and commercial time, but the different channels have different levels of volume amongst them. At least with this new law we can eliminate one annoying part of TV.

December 14 2012 at 11:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What about pop up ads? Lets ban those too. I can't count how often a pop up obscures a subtitle. And the station logo has to go as well. Don't the networks realize how many ways are available to check programming?
I either know what's on next or don't care!
AMC and History are so bad I no longer watch them.

December 14 2012 at 11:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Dip me in ****, Congess actually did something last year!

December 14 2012 at 9:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yes you are right. The Ad people successfully lobbied that bill to be recended. Eeven in the music business they compress the music to get it louder than anyone elses so it stands out. It sacrifices quality but in a MP3 on ear buds who notices.

December 14 2012 at 8:12 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Glad to see the when was added in the first paragraph..

December 14 2012 at 7:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Michelle CD

Great, there used to be a law where the commercials were not allowed to be any louder than the show that was on, so wonder if this one is gong to be any better. Not only this but how about setting rules that make it so that there are not more commercial time than show time!

December 14 2012 at 7:44 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply