FCC Takes Action To Tone Down Commercials

The FCC has put in motion a plan to ensure commercials are not louder than the programs in which they appear. The agency’s rules go into effect December 2012. They place degrees of responsibility on TV stations and cable/telco/satellite distributors.

The FCC action Tuesday implements the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act (CALM), passed in 2010 by Congress. The FCC has received complaints about excessively loud commercials for years -- almost 6,000 since 2008 alone -- and for the first time has authority to regulate the matter.

The new rules require that the average volume of commercials does not exceed the average volume of the programming. Promos are viewed as commercials. While some suggested political ads should be exempt, the FCC has deemed them just like any other commercial. 

The FCC can grant one-year waivers to stations or operators displaying financial difficulty with putting in place the equipment to ensure the loudness rules are met. The FCC said programmers and networks will provide “certifications” to the stations and distributors that the volume of their ads and programs meet the FCC rules.

FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell stated: “From this point forward, TV commercials, such as those for OxyClean, ShamWow!, HeadOn and the like, will never be the same. Family rooms across America might be a little less noisy as the result of our implementation of Congress’ will.”

2 comments about "FCC Takes Action To Tone Down Commercials".
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  1. John Grono from GAP Research, December 14, 2011 at 9:05 a.m.

    I understand the intent, but let's say the programme was running at 85dB, the commericals in the break ran at 80dB, and when the programme returned the setting was a wide-rolling field of long grass with birds chirping at 70dB. Are the ads loud or not.

    Volume levels are generally judged by viewers comparatively. How can the creative agency make an ad that fits all comparable situations?

    Further, different channels broadcast at different volumes, so the same ad on one network could seem loud and the self-same ad appear soft on another.

    Surely a more reliable method would be to cap the maximum volume of the ad based on some industry standard benchmarks. (And I would suggest that the level of compression also be mandated so that the ad doesn't scream at maximum allowable volume for the full 30 seconds).

  2. Joe Lopez from customer service, January 18, 2012 at 3:41 p.m.

    Good to hear there will be some control over loud TV ads. I don’t like babysitting the mute button. I don’t know what took the FCC so long to get this fixed and the CALM act should’ve been in place long ago. I know that even if the FCC didn’t step in DISH, has this fixed with the new Hopper. This receiver has the new TruVolume technology to prevent annoying volume changes. This is just the start of this fully loaded DVR and has to be the best receiver to be launched in the pay-TV industry. Using Facebook and Pandora are what appealed to me the most. This receiver has the most record time with 250 hours HD. This will prevent the hard drive from filling as fast making life simple and no more problems. This will help enhance my employee service from DISH, and I cant wait to get this awesome DVR.

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