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ATSC Revises Loudness Guidelines in Response to CALM Act

The membership of the Advanced Television Systems Committee, tasked with developing standards for digital TV, has approved revisions to its guidelines for controlling audio loudness.

The revision of A/85, Techniques for Establishing and Maintaining Audio Loudness for Digital Television includes a new Annex J: “Requirements for Establishing and Maintaining Audio Loudness of Commercial Advertising in Digital Television,” suitable for the FCC’s citation in their rules for the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act.

Responding to numerous consumer complaints about loud TV commercials, Congress last year passed the CALM Act, requiring the FCC to adopt the relevant portions of ATSC A/85. The guidelines, approved by ATSC in 2009, will be used to determine whether stations are complying with Congress’ mandate, which apply to TV broadcasters, cable operators and other multichannel video distributors. Last week, the FCC issued a Notice of Public Rulemaking seeking public comment on implementation of the new rules.

A/85 focuses on audio measurement, production, and postproduction monitoring techniques, and methods to effectively control loudness for content delivery or exchange. It recommends methods to effectively control program‐to‐interstitial loudness, discusses metadata systems and use, and describes modern dynamic range control. The recommended practice also includes specific information on loudness management at the boundaries of programs and interstitial content. ATSC Recommended Practice A/85:2011, 25 May 2011, is the successor document to Recommended Practice A/85:2009, 4 November 2009.

The updated A/85 revisions can be found here.