All is not so CALM since the Commercial Advertisement Loudness
Mitigation Act took effect Dec. 13, 2012. The Federal Communications Commission
reports having received 15,850 consumer complaints since that time. The law
requires broadcasters and cable operators to control loudness level variations
between programs and commercials so viewers aren’t jarred out of their
reveries. Regulators consequently relied on viewers to monitor compliance.
“The commission established an enforcement mechanism that relies on complaints
from the public, which are reviewed for patterns or trends that indicate
non-compliance and warrant investigation and potential penalties,” Acting FCC
Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn said in a report
delivered Tuesday to Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.). Eshoo. “That review is
The commission set up a special website for complaint submissions, which it
said may have contributed to the hefty count. During the third quarter of 2012,
before the law went into effect, the commission received just 192 loudness
complaints. In December of 2012 alone, 4,777 came in.
“Not surprisingly, the special form and the publicity surrounding the new rules
prompted a large wave of complaints, which has subsided significantly and
consistently over the past six weeks,” Clyburn’s report said.
The monthly totals are as follows:
December, 2012 — 4,777
January, 2013 — 4,405
February, 2013 — 2,407
March, 2013 — 1,526
April, 2013 — 1,513
May, 2013 — 1,065
Of the total, two-third, or 10,700 were referred to the commission’s
Enforcement Bureau for analysis to determine if action is warranted. The
remaining 5,150 were incomplete, the report said. Those who filed incomplete
reports were notified and given instructions on how to resubmit their
Eshoo, who sponsored the CALM Act, requested the report in a June 5 letter to
Clyburn. She asked if the FCC could detect any patterns of non-compliance.
Clyburn said doing so requires a “complex and multi-dimensional analysis of the
complaints” by TV station, cable provider, geography, programmer and the
offending commercial. The data in the complaints themselves often is not
sufficient to make a reliable analysis, Clyburn said, so the FCC is having to
gather further information to assess patterns.
Eshoo asked about complaints involving video-on-demand. Clyburn said there were
55. The Congresswoman also asked how many stations and cable operators applied
for waivers. The commission received 170 requests in all—168 asking for a
one-year waiver, and two seeking short-term waivers. All were granted, the