Part of the Bay Area News Group

TV advertisers have a year to turn volume down

By Josh Richman
Tuesday, December 13th, 2011 at 2:30 pm in Anna Eshoo, U.S. House.

The Federal Communications Commission has given television stations, cable operators and other multichannel video programming distributors one year to comply with new rules limiting the volume of advertisements under a Bay Area House member’s law.

No, it’s not your imagination – those ads are louder than the shows they interrupt. To forbid this, Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, authored the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act, a Senate version of which passed the Senate unanimously in September 2010 and passed the House on a voice vote three months later and was signed into law by President Barack Obama a year ago this Thursday.

Eshoo since then has been working with the FCC to ensure that the rules implementing the new law are fair. Those rules were approved today.

“I’m proud to have led the charge to pass the CALM Act, which will give consumers the relief they’ve clamored for. TV stations now have the responsibility to turn down the volume on excessively loud commercials, and it’s about time,” Eshoo said in a news release. “The law I wrote is simple – the volume of television commercials cannot be louder than regular programming. Households across the country will soon get the relief they deserve from the annoyance of blaringly loud television commercials.”

Eshoo’s office said loud commercials have been a top consumer complaint for decades, and are listed as such in 21 of the FCC’s 25 quarterly reports between 2002 and 2009. A 2009 Harris poll found almost 90 percent of TV viewers are bothered by high commercial volumes, prompting 41 percent of viewers to turn down the volume, 22 percent to mute the TV, and 17 percent to change the channel altogether. Before the CALM Act, the official FCC policy recommended that consumers mute commercials if they find them too strident.

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  • RR, Senile Columnist

    Hey, nothing can stop the power of an idea whose time has come. Rep. Eshoo is a latter-day Jefferson.