Loud commercials to end soon?

A bill in Congress would finally stop television ads from blaring at ear-splitting volumes.

By Kim Peterson Dec 1, 2010 2:04PM
Television © CorbisThe mute button on my TV remote has all but disappeared, worn down to a rubber nub after years of ear-splitting commercials.

Is it that hard to make advertisers turn down the volume? Apparently so, because even after decades of consumer complaints, the ads continue to one-up each other in a competition for your attention.

That's about to change, however, thanks to a bill in Congress that forbids TV ads from being louder than the programs that accompany them. The CALM Act (whose name stands for Commercial Advertising Loudness Mitigation) has been approved by the Senate and heads to the House for a vote this week, The Wall Street Journal reports.

It's surprising that advertisers were allowed to get away with those volume games for so long. But that's because for years it was too difficult to measure and control volume levels, the Journal reports.

So regulators simply said that ads couldn't surpass the highest volume of the programs they were broadcast with. Post continues after video:
The problem is that the highest volume was really loud -- and was often reserved for a gunshot or explosion, the Journal reports. So advertisers were basically allowed to take that gunshot sound and match their commercials to the volume. Digital television signals didn't help, because they boosted the sound spectrum.

It took years of auditory analysis to sort it out. Engineers from Dolby Laboratories in San Francisco got involved, and other countries took the lead in limiting ad volume.

Finally, the U.S. got on board with the CALM Act, which its author, Rep. Anna Eshoo of California, says is the most popular bill she has ever pushed through Congress.

The bill's text, which you can read here, is very short. It simply requires the Federal Communications Commission to "prescribe a standard to preclude commercials from being broadcast at louder volumes than the program material they accompany."

It gives the FCC one year to figure it out. The technology exists to do it, Ars Technica reports. The FCC just needs to determine the most effective and least costly method.

5Comments
Dec 2, 2010 11:13AM
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It is about time....I don't think the advertisers get it how pissed off the loud volume makes people.
Dec 2, 2010 10:26AM
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I'll believe it when i see it happen ??? This has been an issue when it was brought up 20 yrs ago and the FCC kept making excuses about how the volume seemed high but really wasn't. We knew they were lying then, and probably nothing will happen because money is being handed under the table...My remote's mute button is also wore down.
Dec 2, 2010 10:01AM
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It's about time something was done about this annoying situation. Before it is all said and done more will be said then done.  I will believe this stops when I actually see it. 

Dec 1, 2010 5:13PM
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It is about time this is getting done. I hate the commercial volume boost and needing to keep the remote in my lap just so I can hit MUTE everytime a commercial comes on.

Just an idea here.....lets make it where the commercial volume has to be 3% lower than the average volume of the show they air during....If they fail to meet this the fine is 100k per commercial airing.

You can bet your a** this volume problem will vanish instantly.

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