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President Obama makes CALM Act law

Last week, President Obama signed the CALM Act (Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation) into law. The measure now empowers the FCC to regulate the volume between programming and commercials.

The legislation adopts the Advanced Television Systems Committee’s recommended practices for variations in commercial volume in relation to the programs around them. The bill directs the FCC to regulate commercial volume per the ATSC recommendations and gives cable operators and broadcasters a year from the law’s adoption to comply.

The bill passed the Senate Sept. 30. It had already passed in the House, but there were some changes that required a revote in the House before it became law.

The Senate changes included clarification that the standards will be an FCC “mandate,” not simply an incorporation of the ATSC guidelines. Another extends that mandate to any “successor” standard approved by ATSC.

Another change deals with the language of a waiver for small cable companies that would suffer a financial hardship from implementation of the new law. It allows them two years to come into compliance.