FCC cracks down on loud blurbs

New rule keeps commercial volume same as program

Car salesmen, mattress merchants and maybe even a few political candidates better beware: The government wants you to tone it down.

The FCC on Tuesday adopted new rules to eliminate the problem of excessively loud commercials. The regulations require that ad spots have the same average volume as the programs they accompany.

The Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act of 2010 — the CALM Act — gave the FCC the authority to address the problem of excessively loud commericials. The FCC rules give stations and cable providers until Dec. 13, 2012 to be in full compliance. Programmers and networks can provide distributors with certifications stating that the commercials that accompany their programming are compliant with the rules. Although the certifications are not mandatory, it will help the stations and cable channels in proving that they took action.

The author of the legislation, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), said, “Households across the country will soon get the relief they deserve from the annoyance of blaringly loud television commercials.” She cited a 2009 Harris poll showing that 90% of viewers are bothered by loud commercials, although the FCC said that consumer complaints have declined since then.

Although smaller stations had concerns that the legislation would impose new liability on them, the irritation of loud spots was apparently enough for even among the anti-regulatory zealots on Capitol Hill. The legislation passed the Senate unanimously and by voice vote in the House.