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Congress Passes CALM Act

On Thursday, Congress passed the CALM Act, a bill that requires broadcasters to regulate the volume on television commercials.

The bill, which was introduced by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) in 2009 was passed by the House of Representatives. The Senate approved the act in September, but differences between the two bills had to be reconciled before coming to a final vote. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law.

The law will require television broadcasters and advertisers to adopt technology that would modulate sound levels and prevent overly loud commercials within one year of enactment. In 2009, the television standards organization ATSC adopted best practices for broadcast commercial volume, which will be the standard by which the FCC will monitor compliance.

Rep. Eshoo claimed that overly loud television commercials were among the biggest issues about which her constituents complained. “Consumers have been asking for a solution to this problem for decades, and today they finally have it.” Rep. Eshoo said. “The CALM Act gives consumers peace of mind, because it puts them in control of the sound in their homes. TV programs use a variety of sound levels to build dramatic effect. But advertisements have been neither subtle nor nuanced. My bill reduces commercial volume, allowing them to only be as loud as the decibel level of regular programming. Consumers will no longer have to experience being blasted at. It’s a simple fix to a huge nuisance.”

Loud television commercials have been listed as a top consumer complain in 221 of the FCC’s last 25 quarterly reports; the commission currently recommends listeners “mute” overly loud commercials.