Congress Tells TV Advertisers to Turn Down the Volume

Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act says ads can’t be louder than shows

It may not matter so much anymore in this Age of DVR and TiVo, but Congress on Thursday passed a law requiring that TV ads not be louder than shows.

The Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act says the Federal Communications Commission must require advertisers to adopt technology that prevents overly loud commercials within one year.

Getting everyone to go along won’t be easy though, since a wide variety of sources produce the commercials and the programming. (And pitchmen do love to scream.)

“Consumers have been asking for a solution to this problem for decades, and today they finally have it.” Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Palo Alto), the bill’s sponser, said in a statement.  “The CALM gives consumers peace of mind, because it puts them in control of the sound in their homes.”

Loud television commercials have been listed as a top consumer complaint in 21 of the Federal Communication Commission’s last 25 quarterly reports, Eshoo said.

The act passed by voice vote, and was OK'd by the Senate unanimously on Sept. 29 — proving that loud commercials annoy politicians of all persuasions. Having passed both the House and the Senate, the bill will now be sent to President Obama for his signature.

“Most Americans experience the frustration of abrasively loud television commercials, with advertisers grabbing for our attention through this intrusive practice,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), who sponsored the bill in the Senate, said in a statement. The legislation, he said, “will mean one less daily annoyance in our lives.”