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CALM generates 15,850 FCC complaints

According to the FCC’s response to an inquiry from two Democrat reps, Eshoo and Whitehouse, the FCC has received almost 16,000 loudness complaints since last December. The complaints span a six-month period.

The FCC response was signed by commissioner Mignon Clyburn and details by month the number of consumer complaints about loudness. Combined with the CALM legislation was publicity of an easy-to-file complaint process. The result was an initial high number of complaints, which decreased over the following six months. In the last five days of the FCC’s June records, only 157 loudness complaints were logged. The table of complaints registered by month is shown below.

The FCC report said that only 192 loudness complaints were received in the third-quarter of 2012, just prior to the loudness regulations becoming effective.

Month received

Total complaints

December, 2013


January, 2013


February, 2013


March, 2013


April, 2013


May, 2013


As of June, 5, 2013


Approximately two-thirds of the complaints were referred to the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau for investigation and possible action. The remaining 5,000 complaints contained insufficient data for follow-up. No action has yet been taken against a programmer or broadcaster.

When it comes to looking for “patterns” with regard to non-compliance, the commission said such an investigation requires “complex and multi-dimensional analysis”, which is not possible until a new complaint form is designed. Furthermore, said the response, such a form cannot be designed because of the “Commission’s reduced budget and belt-tightening associated with sequestration”.

Broadcasters should continue to mind loudness and be aware that misadjusted downstream devices can still point the finger of blame at you. See Broadcast Engineering’s article by Dennis Ciapura, “STBs and CALM” for more information on how this error can occur.