Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act Introduced

An interesting piece of legislation, some say Quixotic, called the Commercial Advertisement Mitigation, or CALM)Act was introduced in the US House of Representatives on June 9th. Multichannel News reports that,

The Federal Communications Commission would be required to regulate the volume of television commercials for excessive loudness under a House bill recently introduced by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.).

Eshoo, a member the Energy and Commerce Committee who represents Silicon Valley, wants the FCC to regulate “excessively noisy and strident” ads on broadcast TV, cable television and satellite television. The bill would exempt radio stations and the Internet.

Esho states on her website that, “My legislation will reduce the volume of commercials in order to bring them to same level as the programs they accompany.”

As the San Francisco Chronicle story also notes,

Eshoo is not alone in pressing the issue. British regulators approved similar rules last month that require broadcasters to limit the “maximum subjective loudness” of TV ads after receiving complaints.

According to Britain’s The Guardian, the new rules to be put into effect on July 7th, were instituted

after the Advertising Standards Authority received more than 100 complaints in 2007 from viewers complaining that some commercials were too loud.

“Often the problem arises because the audio files used in the ads have been compressed, making quieter sounds more pronounced or ‘punchy’,” said the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice, the body responsible for writing the TV ad code.

As I’ve noted before, these sort of complaints have been around since the early days of TV in the United States. However, the Chronicle reports that,

“We get lots of complaints about various things, but I haven’t really heard any complaints about this issue,” said Dan Jaffe, executive vice president in the Washington, D.C., office of the Association of National Advertisers, a trade group that includes advertising heavyweights like Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola and Procter & Gamble.

Multichannel News, though, notes that,

In January, the FCC released a report showing that it had received complaints from consumers about the “abrupt changes in volume” during transitions from regular programming to commercials.

Author: Harvey Deneroff

Harvey Deneroff is a Los Angeles-based independent animation and film scholar specializing in labor history. He formerly taught at the Savannah College of Art and Design and was editor of Animation Magazine, Animation World Magazine, and Graiffit (published by ASIFA-Hollywood). He is the founder and past president of the Society for Animation Studies.