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Dialnorm Bill Could Get Hearing

WASHINGTON: Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) is ready to keep TV commercials from blasting her out of the room. Eshoo is sponsoring the “Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act,” which would require the FCC to set a standard to prevent commercials from being louder than the programming in which they’re inserted.

Specifically, the bill directs the FCC to prohibit ads from being “excessively noisy or strident; having modulation levels substantially higher than the accompanying program; and having an average maximum loudness substantially higher than that of the accompanying program.”

If it passes and works, it will achieve what a coterie of broadcast engineers have not been able to, which has more to do with the material advertisers submit than with TV stations and networks. Both, however, have been working on loudness level variations, and continue to do so.

The bill, H.R. 6209, was introduced last June and now has 63 co-sponsors, enough to potentially get a subcommittee hearing, although lawmakers now remain busy trying to shore up the economy. The bill would likely be taken up by communications subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce committee, of which Eshoo is a member and Rick Boucher (D-Va.) chairs. -- Deborah D. McAdams