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ATSC adds to A/85 loudness management spec

The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) has expanded its recommended television loudness management techniques to cover alternative audio systems as specified in the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act.

ATSC members voted to approve an "Annex" of its previously standardized A/85 spec, also known as the "Recommended Practice (RP) covering Techniques for Establishing and Maintaining Audio Loudness for Digital Television."

The addition of "Requirements for Establishing and Maintaining Audio Loudness of Commercial Advertising in Digital Television When Using Non-AC-3 Audio Codecs," aka "Annex K" complements the A/85 RP's Annex J, which specifies AC-3 commercial audio loudness requirements.

As mandated by the statute, proposed FCC rules apply to TV broadcasters, cable operators and other multichannel video programming distributors (MPVDs). Annex J covers broadcasters and others that use the AC-3 (Dolby Digital) audio system in the ATSC Digital TV Standard, and Annex K covers non-AC-3 audio systems used by MPVDs. These updates to the A-85 RP are suitable for the FCC to cite in its rules for implementing the CALM Act.

In response to consumer complaints about loud commercials the CALM Act was enacted into law on Dec. 15, 2010, requiring the FCC to adopt the relevant portions of ATSC A/85 by Dec. 15, 2011. On May 27, the FCC released its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking as required by the CALM Act. Comments were due on July 8. On July 18, at the request of the ATSC, the FCC granted an extension of the Reply Comment deadline in this proceeding to Aug. 1 "to allow interested parties an opportunity to review and provide comments on the successor document to the ATSC A/85 RP."

ATSC Recommended Practice A/85:2011, July 25, 2011, is the successor document to Recommended Practice A/85:2011, May 25, 2011. A/85 is available on the ATSC website,