TV Ads Are Still Loud, The CALM Act is Failing

by on July 24, 2013

in Entertainment

Loud Ads on TV in 2013

Back in December, the CALM act, heralded by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), went into full effect.  CALM stands for Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation, and is supposed to force TV stations to treat their ads different than how they had previously.

Previously, ads could not be any louder than the loudest part of the TV program they aired within.  The networks and advertisers figured out how to technically abide by the rule via a trick with sound compression.  Technically, as measured, the ads were not louder.  But the TV viewer’s perception felt like ads were 20 to 30% louder than the show.

Have you ever tinkered with your BASS knob, cranking it up and down without touching the volume?  You can rattle the walls or make it seem less obtrusive via the BASS.

The CALM act came along in December of 2012, and for a few months, it seemed that ads were quieter.

But now, networks like ABC, FX and others that I watch seem to be getting back around the CALM act and blasting me with ads much louder (in my perception) than the show I am watching.

The CALM act requires commercials to air at relatively the same volume as the surrounding programming they air in.

And they are NOT.  They’re getting back to being much louder than the show they’re in.

The CALM Act is being enforced, but it takes an act of god, or, viewer reports, to get infractions lodged.

So far, the FCC has received over 15,000 complaints.  Statistically, that’s a pretty insignificant percentage of total TV viewers. To file a complaint, one must

  • State if you watched the commercial on pay TV (such as on cable or satellite) or if you watched it on a broadcast television station using an antenna;
  • The name of the advertiser or product promoted in the commercial;
  • The date you saw the commercial;
  • The time you saw the commercial;
  • The name of the TV program during which you saw the commercial;
  • Which TV station (by call sign and/or channel number and the station’s community) or pay TV provider (with its system location) transmitted the commercial; and
  • If you watched the commercial on pay TV, the channel number on which you saw it and the cable programmer or network, such as CNN or HBO.

It’s quite the routine one has to go through, but I presume not unwarranted.  They do need these kinds of details.

But for now, it seems that the CALM act is failing.  Or to to be more accurate, my perception is that TV ads have become loud once again.

The FCC page for the CALM Act


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