Turning Down the Volume on Commercials

Legislation up for Thursday vote would keep ads at same audio level as TV programs.

The bangs, slams and, most of all, the announcers in TV commercials could be headed for some toning down.

The House Energy & Commerce Committee has scheduled a vote for Thursday on Rep. Anna Eshoo’s legislation that would require the Federal Communications Commission to set volume limits on TV commercials within a year.

The California Democrat’s Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act, or CALM, would require that commercials air at the same volume level of accompanying programs.

When she first introduced the legislation last year, Rep. Eshoo complained about loud commercials.

“Most Americans are not overjoyed to watch television commercials, but they are willing to tolerate them to sustain free over-the-air television," she said at that time. "What annoys all of us is the sudden increase of volume when commercials are aired.

“A TV program has a mix of audio levels. There are loud and soft parts. Nuance is used to build the dramatic effect," she added. "Most advertisers don’t want nuance. They want to grab our attention, and to do this, they record every part of it as loud as possible.”