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FCC Seeks Comment on Commercial Loudness Rules

Exterior of the FCC building in Washington, D.C.
(Image credit: FCC)

The FCC is seeking comment on whether it needs to update its rules limiting excessively loud commercials.

That came in a request from the Media Bureau and following a letter to FCC acting chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel from Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), author of the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act that the FCC rules implement, citing a press report that complaints to the FCC about loud commercials increased sharply from April 2020 through February 2021, with the article concluding that "2021 is poised to be the worst year since the initial rollout" of the CALM Act.

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The CALM Act, which passed over a decade ago, requires TV stations and MVPDs to make sure all commercials are transmitted "at the appropriate loudness level in accordance with the industry standard mandated in the statute," a standard that was subsequently adjusted by the FCC to ensure that silent parts of commercials couldn't be used to bring the average down for loud passages.

"We seek comment on the extent to which our rules have been effective in preventing loud commercials," the FCC said. "In particular, we invite consumers to tell us their experiences as they watch programming provided by television broadcasters and MVPDs."

The goal of the law is to prevent commercials from being delivered at volumes louder than the surrounding programming.

John Eggerton
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.