Eshoo Calls for FCC Investigations into CALM Act Complaints

TV volume
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WASHINGTON—Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) wants the FCC under Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel to investigate the recent rise of complaints related to the CALM Act, and hopefully have the commission go a step further than it did under former FCC Chairman Ajit Pai when it comes to enforcement.

The CALM (Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation) Act, which Eshoo wrote and was enacted in 2010, is designed to regulate the volume of broadcast, cable and satellite commercials compared to other programming, with the goal of preventing commercials from being significantly louder. The FCC was directed to issue regulations for the bill.

In a letter from Eshoo to Rosenworcel, she details how she originally contacted Pai on July 21, 2020, requesting information about new complaints related to the enforcement of the CALM Act. She said his response, sent on Aug. 11, 2020, indicated that while the FCC has received “thousands of complaints,” it has never brought an enforcement action as a result. Pai also said that CALM Act complaints were increasing in the first half of 2020.

Eshoo cited a recent press report from Insider using more recent data that shows complaints have increased from April 2020 through February 2021. The article says that “2021 is poised to be the worst year since the initial rollout” of the CALM Act.

“It is for these reasons that I ask the FCC investigate the rise in the loudness of TV advertising complaints and take enforcement actions as appropriate,” Eshoo wrote.

The FCC previously updated its enforcement of the CALM Act in 2014 (then under former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler), implementing a new measurement algorithm that disregarded quiet or silent parts of commercials, which was proving to be a loophole with advertisers trying to use silence to offset loudness and lower the average volume of a commercial.