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Legislator Wants to Outlaw Loud Commercials

A bill to outlaw loud commercials is getting a hearing on Capital Hill on Thursday. The House Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet will hear about H.R. 1084, the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act. IT would require the FCC “to prescribe a standard to preclude commercials from being broadcast at louder volumes than the program material they accompany.”

The CALM Act was introduced last summer but was never scheduled in committee. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) reintroduced it in the current Congress in February. It directs the FCC to regulate volume within a year of its enactment.

“Most Americans are not overjoyed to watch television commercials, but they are willing to tolerate them to sustain free over-the-air television. What annoys all of us is the sudden increase of volume when commercials are aired,” Eshoo’s Web site states. “This legislation will reduce the volume of commercials in order to bring them to same level as the programs they accompany.”

The three-part bill instructs the commission to enjoin commercials from being “excessively noisy or strident;” and from having modulation and loudness levels that “substantially” exceed the accompanying programming.

Of the bill’s 21 co-sponsors, only three are members of the subcommittee, though one is its chairman, Rick Boucher of Virginia.

Is this a solution in search of a problem? What do you think?