CALM down! TV commercials' volume to get softer

Hallelujah! The days of TV commercials screaming at you may finally be a thing of the past.

The aptly named CALM –  Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation — Act takes effect today. Sponsored by Silicon Valley’s own Rep. Anna Eshoo (D), the law requires TV stations and networks to turn down the volume on commercials so that they are no louder than the average volume of the programs in which they are interspersed.

The law was a response to one of the top complaints made by consumers to the Federal Communications Commission, which regulates broadcast, cable and satellite TV. According to a 2010 Harris poll, 86 percent of TV viewers reported that commercials were louder than the shows they were watching and 57 percent said they were much louder. Of those who found the commercials to be louder, 93 percent found the increased volume bothersome and 62 percent said it bothered them a lot.

The new regulations are a long time coming. According to a press release from Eshoo’s office, loud commercials have been among the top consumer complaints at the FCC for decades. Of the 25 quarterly reports filed by the FCC between 2002 and 2009, 21 mentioned the issue. Eshoo first filed the CALM Act in 2008, but it didn’t pass both houses of Congress until 2010. The FCC approved its final rules implementing the act a year ago.

Troy Wolverton Troy Wolverton (274 Posts)

Troy writes the Tech Files column as the Personal Technology Columnist at the San Jose Mercury News. He also covers the digital media, mobile and video game industries and writes occasionally about Apple, chips, social networking and other aspects of technology. Previously, Troy covered Apple and the consumer electronics industry. Prior to joining the Mercury News, Troy reported on technology, business and financial issues for TheStreet.com and CNET News.com.