CALM Act Authors Pleased With Quieter Volume of Complaints

Complaints about loud commercials have quieted since the FCC started implementing the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act Dec. 12, which prompted the co-authors of the legislation to mark the improvement.

The FCC's quarterly report on the act found that complaints were down 53% from the previous reporting period to 3,501.

"I'm very pleased that the loudness standards set in place by the CALM Act are working," said Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), ranking member of the House Communications Subcommittee and bill co-author.

"Loud commercials have long been an unnecessary annoyance in the daily lives of Americans and have consistently ranked among the top consumer complaints to the FCC," said Rep. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.). "I was glad to work with Rep. Eshoo to pass a law to address this problem, and I'm pleased to see that the number of FCC complaints has steadily declined since the law took effect."

In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking released last week, the Clyburn FCC proposed what it said was a minor rule change to the Act, an improved loudness measurement algorithm it said could lead to even quieter commercials by closing an electronic loophole of sorts. The algorithm appears to be designed to keep advertisers from using silence to offset excessive loudness in calculating the average volume of a commercial.

The FCC adopted rules implementing the act in December 2011, but the industry did not have to come into compliance for a year.

The FCC made cable operators responsible for the volume of both national and local ads, as well as promos, while TV stations are responsible for the national network and syndicated ads, as well as promos and local ads, both on broadcast and on the signals they deliver to cable operators. That means if a cable operator delivers a TV station ad that violates the act, it is the broadcaster who is responsible.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.