New FCC rule regulates TV commercial volume

By on December 14, 2011, 2:00 PM

The Federal Communications Commission has passed a new regulation known as the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act (CALM). The new measure aims to combat obnoxiously loud television commercials, an issue we have all likely experienced firsthand.

Excessively loud commercials, especially on local networks, have plagued television viewers for as long as most can remember. The FCC has received over 6,000 complaints regarding loud commercials since 2008. According to the Consumer Union, the issue has been a top complaint in 21 of the past 25 reports they have released.

CALM was passed by Congress over a year ago, entrusting the FCC to address the issue. But despite the new regulation, it will still be some time before our ears get relief. CALM isn’t set to go into effect until December 2012, giving satellite providers, cable TV operators and local broadcasters a full year to get their act in order.

Additionally, the FCC has been granted the right to give providers a one-year waiver should they not meet the requirements within a year. If that weren’t enough, the FCC can dole out an additional one-year waiver. A worst-case scenario would mean that a provider would have until December 2014 to comply. Given the recent surge in online video streaming and other alternate delivery methods, such a regulation could become largely irrelevant by the time its fully enforced.

In the meantime, viewers are left to either turn down the volume manually or hit the mute button.

Loud noise photo from Shutterstock.




User Comments: 24

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Ranger12 Ranger12 said:

Wonderful. Just what we need. The government regulating something else. Smh

Cota Cota said:

Actually these are really annoying, specially because they more likely announce crap :s

Ranger12 Ranger12 said:

I agree they are annoying as hell and usually it turns me off to whatever theyre trying to sell me but I don't need or want the government to step in and start telling people what to do and what not to do. I've got a remote, I can turn down the volume myself. I don't wanna pay for this crap regulation.

Guest said:

Actually it seems like the TV could have a built in circuit to deal with this as it's not a hard technical problem to resolve. The purpose of the government is to regulate and make laws, at least they are trying to do something about this issue. In the mean time the mute button works fine.

yRaz yRaz said:

Ranger12 said:

I agree they are annoying as hell and usually it turns me off to whatever theyre trying to sell me but I don't need or want the government to step in and start telling people what to do and what not to do. I've got a remote, I can turn down the volume myself. I don't wanna pay for this crap regulation.

Considering how obnoxiously loud commercials are then I have to say, yes, regulate them. Obviously writing and calling to complain doesn't work. But I guess it's more important for you to know what smart phones ATT is selling while you take your bathroom break down the hall.

BTW, you aren't the one who should be paying for it. It's the people making ungodly amounts of money and want to give less to America. Give corporations tax cuts but raise taxes on people who live pay check to pay check. Stupid big government battle cry, tired of hearing it. I guess if you don't want the Gov to regulate things like clean water, the roads, schools and other infrastructure that they(we) pay for and create jobs, you can just leave the US. I, however, like having roads to drive on and clean water to drink so I'm going to continue paying for them.

O'well, the GOP has proven themselves to be incapable of logic. I guess the sheep that fallow them are no different.

Staff
Rick Rick, TechSpot Staff, said:

Now, if only they would regulate Internet commercials... but that'll probably take another 50 years too.

Ranger12 Ranger12 said:

Well, I would hate for this to turn into a political debate seeing as those rarely accomplish anything eg. Congress. But I'd have to say that infrastructure is a national interest so that would definitely require regulations. However, the volume if a commercial? I can't see how there is any national interest at stake here.

yRaz yRaz said:

Ranger12 said:

Well, I would hate for this to turn into a political debate seeing as those rarely accomplish anything eg. Congress. But I'd have to say that infrastructure is a national interest so that would definitely require regulations. However, the volume if a commercial? I can't see how there is any national interest at stake here.

I'm sure people have complained to advertisers and it didn't work. Then they asked the government to step in and do something about it, so they did. This laissez-faire attitude towards everything just doesn't work. This is a small sign of a bigger problem. National interest is not a big part of this, but I'm sure the majority of the population hates being bombarded with commercials even if they walk out of the room. "Just hit the mute button," yeah, or they could just NOT do it in the first place. You wouldn't let someone walk into your house and just turn the volume up on your TV, especially during commercials. I don't care if that person is in my house or at a desk in an office building, that person doesn't have the right to come into my living room. I didn't pay tons of money for a sound system to hear Ads all over my house.

On another note, I would love a political argument

Ranger12 Ranger12 said:

I would love a good debate as well but here is not the proper place. Too many people wouldn't be able to conduct themselves in a appropriate and intelligible manner. But anyway, I would go to the tv stations before going to government. They are the ones that agree to run the ads. If it was made clear to the stations that we aren't watching because they run intrusive ads then the ads would go away. On another note the government can't just willy nilly make laws here and there so national interest does play a part. They may cite the interstate commerce clause as to why they can get involved. But my personal belief is that these commercial are mere inconvenience to most people and are not actually doing any harm so the handing a wee bit more power to the government is not the answer. Oh and as far as the whole "make the rich pay", I don't need rich people to pay my bill. I can work my own ass off and pay for myself just fine.

yRaz yRaz said:

Ranger12 said:

I would love a good debate as well but here is not the proper place. Too many people wouldn't be able to conduct themselves in a appropriate and intelligible manner. But anyway, I would go to the tv stations before going to government. They are the ones that agree to run the ads. If it was made clear to the stations that we aren't watching because they run intrusive ads then the ads would go away. On another note the government can't just willy nilly make laws here and there so national interest does play a part. They may cite the interstate commerce clause as to why they can get involved. But my personal belief is that these commercial are mere inconvenience to most people and are not actually doing any harm so the handing a wee bit more power to the government is not the answer. Oh and as far as the whole "make the rich pay", I don't need rich people to pay my bill. I can work my own ass off and pay for myself just fine.

Yes, you can work your ass off as they sit in their offices counting their money. They make so much that they couldn't spend all that in a lifetime. My weekly pay check hardly lasts me 6 days. But lets extend their tax cuts and tag another $1,000/yr bill to my taxes. Bush tax cuts haven't really done anything to create jobs and after 10 years of failure I'm surprised we extended them. Do you realize how much corporations pay to lobby tax cuts? Ever since the Supreme Court ruled corporations are people and can donate unlimited amounts of money to a candidate politics is over. If you look up the records of who voted for these(all this information is publicly available) you'll see that overwhelmingly so The republican party is against regulation and taxes. BTW, watch out for fracking in your area, oil and gas companies don't have follow the clean water act.

Ranger12 Ranger12 said:

I'm from good 'ol Georgia! No fracking going on here. Although I've contemplated moving out to the Dakotas to get in on the action. I'm not gonna talk politics here.

DokkRokken said:

Ranger12 said:

Well, I would hate for this to turn into a political debate seeing as those rarely accomplish anything eg. Congress. But I'd have to say that infrastructure is a national interest so that would definitely require regulations. However, the volume if a commercial? I can't see how there is any national interest at stake here.

People think it's annoying as hell and the private sector didn't do a thing about it. So government is stepping in to regulate it. Common sense! Who knew government's still exercised it?

LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

Yes! This makes me so incredibly happy! For the people who don't understand why it was needed in the first place, it wasn't done for you. It was done for people like me.

9Nails, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I've complained to my cable service provider about this very issue. They said that they do offer audio quality guarantees for the shows, but not the commercials. Commercials were unregulated, and that they were sorry for the excessive volume that commercials displayed. I've tried my TV's built-in audio compression setting, and this didn't help. I've been turning the volume down in the past, then skipping commercials altogether with a DVR. But, recently I've canceled my cable service over not tjust this issue, but also the cost of their service. I have switched to using Netflix to watch anything on my TV. And I probably wont come back to regular TV until the prices are cut significantly. Competition of services hasn't swung into the price bracket that I'm willing to pay ($15 - 30 /mo. for all program channels with HD service and a DVR.)

Guest said:

"They are the ones that agree to run the ads."

Wrong. It's called full-barter syndication, and affiliates do not get to choose what commercials are in the programming (or at what volume) when they receive it. Please take an electronic media and film class if you are in college.

Ranger12 Ranger12 said:

True in some cases but not all. Seems that small local stations use this system most often. I however don't watch these stations generally so I can't speak for them.

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

"the FCC has received over 6000 complaints since 2008" that's it? Only 6000 since 2008?!

And such a low number of complaints warrants the gov stepping in?

This is just as stupid as the recent ruling in Europe that stops water companies from saying water helps stop de-hydration, we're in the middle of a recession here?!

Sometimes I really do worry about who has such power in this world to be able to enforce such rubbish.

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

Yes! This makes me so incredibly happy! For the people who don't understand why it was needed in the first place, it wasn't done for you. It was done for people like me.

Okay, now I'm curious papa. What do you mean people like me? A medical or sensitivity condition?

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

Ranger12 said:

I agree they are annoying as hell and usually it turns me off to whatever theyre trying to sell me but I don't need or want the government to step in and start telling people what to do and what not to do. I've got a remote, I can turn down the volume myself. I don't wanna pay for this crap regulation.

Someone didn't read the article...

The FCC has received over 6,000 complaints regarding loud commercials since 2008. According to the Consumer Union, the issue has been a top complaint in 21 of the past 25 reports they have released.

Relic Relic, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Good, I'm happy that this finally got through just wish it went into effect come January next year. As pointed out the Consumer Union has listed this as a major complaint for many years and I'm positive their are more than 6000 people who complained, just not directly to the FCC. I've personally questioned my local provider and was told there was nothing they could do. The market was well aware of the annoyance of this and didn't do anything to rectify the problem and now new laws have been passed on our behalf to fix it.

Guest said:

Here's how it seems to work: Most people try to do the right and fair thing however a few people don't care about others and try to take the most they can while giving the least they can. When they rub enough people the wrong way those people complain however they are ignored and so a movement starts until enough energy and attention is brought to the subject. The next steps are protests and laws in an attempt to resolve the situation. This slows down or stops that specific path to taking however these people find another way to exploit others so they may take more and the cycle repeats. If more people would only try to be balanced and reasonable in taking and giving the world would be a better place. Or in other words, "treat others as you would be treated".

Ranger12 Ranger12 said:

So if 6,000 people complain (that is .00002 of the population) then we should create a regulation that affects everyone? Again, I have heard these commercials and find them annoying. It seems that the vast majority of us are not satisfied with politicians but we are more than happy to let them rule the details of our lives. As far as the previous comment, it sounds to me like some form of voluntary communism. You can almost see "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need" written between the lines.

LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

Okay, now I'm curious papa. What do you mean people like me? A medical or sensitivity condition?

People like me are just people who care about this issue. I've been complaining about this issue for years... and I too have called my local cable company to ask why it is happening at all. I'm very much against the use of compression or any other type of volume "normalization" as it can subtract from the dynamic presentation originally intended.

caravel said:

So if 6,000 people complain (that is .00002 of the population) then we should create a regulation that affects everyone?

I doubt the 6000 even come into it, it's more likely that this is an issue which annoys a lot of people, congressmen included... or nothing would have been done about it.

As ever though, those 6000 did get off their arses over the last few years and actually complained while the vast majority sat there and grumbled. If more people did that, the world would certainly be a better place.

Again, I have heard these commercials and find them annoying. It seems that the vast majority of us are not satisfied with politicians but we are more than happy to let them rule the details of our lives. As far as the previous comment, it sounds to me like some form of voluntary communism. You can almost see "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need" written between the lines.

All TV is already regulated - this phantom "communism" is already in place... this is just another bit of regulation and only the tip of the iceberg. Regulation of TV is why you don't see conflicts from a foreign perspective, uncensored news or tits and arses in your adverts.

It probably needs regulating, because advertisers will not turn it down of their own accord, because they do not want their ad to be quieter than the competition's. Then one advertiser will up it a notch and the rest will follow - this is obviously what has happened over the years.

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