CALM Act Passes Senate

Watch those audio levels! The Senate has passed Senate Bill 2847 – The CALM Act, which directs the FCC to adopt rules regulating the loudness of TV commercials.

The requirements of the CALM (Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation) Act are simple. The legislation states that within one year after the date of enactment, the FCC "shall prescribe pursuant to the Communications Act of 1934" a regulation that incorporates by reference and makes mandatory (subject to any waivers the FCC might grant) the "Recommended Practice: Techniques for Establishing and Maintaining Audio Loudness for Digital Television' (A/85), and any successor thereto, approved by the Advanced Television Systems Committee. The bill states that it's applicable only "insofar as such recommended practice concerns the transmission of commercial advertisements by a television broadcast station, cable operator, or other multichannel video programming distributor…"

The Act includes a waiver provision allowing the FCC to waive the requirement for one year for any TV station, CATV operator or other video programming distributor demonstrating financial hardship in obtaining the necessary equipment for compliance. The FCC is also allowed to renew the waiver for a second year. The FCC's current authority to waive any rule required isn't affected by the Act.

It's important to note that stations, operators and distributors are able to comply with the rule by installing, utilizing and maintaining "in a commercially reasonable manner, the equipment and associated software in compliance with the regulations issued by the Federal Communications Commission…"

Stations should be relieved to see that the original language, which mandated that ads accompanying video programming "shall not be excessively noisy or strident," was not included in the Act when it passed.

Equipment to provide loudness monitoring and control is available from several companies.

Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.