Congress Targets Loud Commercials on Streaming Services

Anna Eshoo
Rep. Anna Eshoo (R-Calif.) (Image credit: N/A)

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), the moving force behind the CALM Act, which limits the loudness of TV commercials, has joined with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) to introduce the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Modernization Act, which would update the 2010 law limiting the loudness of TV ads.

The update would extend the law to streaming services, as well as beef up the Federal Communications Committee's ability to go after violations and mandate a study of the effectiveness of the law to date.

The original CALM Act adopted the Advanced Television Systems Committee's recommended practices for variations in commercial volume in relation to the programs around them, applying them to local and national broadcast, cable and satellite programming.

One knock on the law is that it can allow quieter portions of a commercial to count toward its average loudness — which can't be any louder than the surrounding programming — so that a loud-then-soft,commercial can hit for the average and fly under the regulatory radar.

Also: CALM Act Passes Congress

“Our bill is simple,” Eshoo said. “[T]he volume of commercials on streaming services cannot be louder than regular programming, as is the case with traditional TV. … Since the law was enacted, streaming services have recreated the problem of loud ads because the old law doesn’t apply to them.”

“New ways to watch TV shouldn’t mean new ways for corporations to blare ads at outrageously high volumes,” Whitehouse said.

“Consumer Reports strongly supports the introduction of the CALM Modernization Act as a necessary update to the statute, and we urge Congress to act on it this year,” said Jonathan Schwantes, senior policy counsel of the consumer advocacy group. ■

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.