Ad Loudness Bill Passes Subcommittee

October 9, 2009
The House Communications subcommittee this week passed legislation that would quell the volume on TV commercials. H.R. 1084, the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act. The bill would require the FCC to adopt a broadcast loudness standard within a year of its enactment. It was introduced in February by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) after failing to get legs in 2008. It was passed by voice vote along with three other bills in the subcommittee, headed by Rep. Rick Boucher of Virginia.

“All of us have had the experience of enjoying a favorite program only to find ourselves scrambling to locate the remote control when at the commercial break the volume of the television seemingly doubles. Those volume increases must end. I look forward to the enactment of this measure,” he said.

The bill, referred to as the CALM Act, includes one-year hardship waivers for small TV stations and cable operators, for which Matt Polka, head of the American Cable Association, expressed his appreciation.

“ACA is please that some House members recognize the many small cable operators have no control over the loudness of commercials contained in local TV shows or national cable networks,” he said in a statement.

The Advanced Television Systems Committee is expected to roll out its loudness standard soon, and while the industry was hoping to keep it voluntary, Eshoo said “the industry’s track record has not been so great in this regard,” according to Multichannel News.

The bill still has to clear the full Commerce Committee before making it to the House floor, which it didn’t manage last year. Reports emerged earlier this year that the industry convinced lawmakers to let it handle the issue, which could still be the case. Legislation is frequently pressed on Capitol Hill to apply pressure and appear responsive. -- Deborah D. McAdams

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