A bill that could put the kibosh on excessively loud TV commercials just got approved by a House subcommittee—great news for anyone who's sick of having their shows interrupted by deafening pitches for A BRAND NEW CAR!!!
The two-year-old Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act, or CALM (which I first blogged about back in 2007) got a green light last week from the House Communications Subcommittee, according to Broadcast & Cable. Next stop: the full Energy & Commerce Committee.
Introduced by California Rep. Anna Eschoo back in June 2007, the CALM act (catchy name) would essentially mandate that TV commercials be no louder than the average sound level of the shows they're accompanying.
"Average" is the key word here, because as it stands today, the FCC only prohibits commercials from being any louder than the loudest parts of a given show, meaning that your favorite Lipitor ad can be as loud as Jack Bauer bellowing "WHERE'S THE BOMB???" on "24."
If passed by Congress, the CALM act would give the FCC a year to enact a new set of TV volume standards being developed by the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC), a non-profit organization that sets industry standards for digital TV. Broadcasters would then have another year to buy and set up up the proper equipment, although one-year waivers for smaller cable carriers and broadcasters would be available, Broadcast & Cable reports.
Now, as I've written before, I'm typically leery of politicians mucking around in the media, especially when it comes to legislating the content of TV shows or the movies—but not in this case. Despite such technical advancements as Dolby Volume and the like (which, unfortunately, you'll only find on a handful of TV sets), I'm routinely jolted out of my chair by too-loud TV commercials, and I'm sick and tired of having to root around for the remote every time there's a commercial break.
That said, let's hope the CALM act, if passed, also closes any loopholes allowing advertisers to find new and insidious tricks for cranking up the volume on their ads.
So, ready for some relief from earsplitting TV commercials?
I dislike how commercials suddenly jump in volume versus the regular show. I always chalked it up to something being done or not done by the local control room, ie ineptitude. Reading this suggests that the volume jump is quite intentional by those purchasing the commercial time spots.
Because of the previous law regarding decibel levels, Commercial's sounds are compressed (digitally manipulated) to make them seem louder, when the decibel level isn't any higher. Unless this legislation puts limits on compression or digital manipulation (which I doubt it does), don't get your hopes up on the reduction of blaring commercials.