Is it my imagination? Are TV commercials just as loud as they have always been? TV commercials on our local Television affiliate stations are much louder than the programming they advertise for. As I understood, a law went into effect last year, making it illegal for TV commercials to be broadcast at a higher volume than regular TV programming, which I recall, took several years for network TV to comply with. It doesn't seem that network TV has taken these federal regulations seriously. What's with the loud commercials?
—Gene A., Medford
They shouldn't be as loud, Gene, not by a long shot. There was a significant piece of legislation passed last year to ensure they wouldn't be, as you understood correctly.
The legislation, called the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act, or CALM (clever, huh?), requires commercials to have the same average volume as the programs that break for them. It went into effect Dec. 13, 2012, according to the Federal Communications Commission's website.
Local affiliates have had the necessary equipment for dealing with commercial audio levels installed for about the past six months. Master controllers can monitor the levels coming in.
"We have total control," said Ron Santos, KDRV master controller. "It suppresses all the audio that's too loud. The equipment is designed to nip it in the bud as it goes."
The FCC website shows the act directs the FCC to require that TV stations, cable operators and satellite TV providers use a standard — called the Advanced Television Systems Committee's A/85 Recommended Practice — with all transmitted ads.
The FCC can grant a one-year waiver to a provider or distributor if they show they will experience financial hardship in obtaining the additional equipment to help them comply, the website shows.
If you have an issue with a particular station, you can notify the FCC at www.fcc.gov/complaints. You need to tell them if you saw the commercial on a paid provider or a regularly broadcast station, the name of the advertiser and product, date and time the commercial ran, the TV program it was on and station. You also may contact their call center at 1-888-225-5322 or 1-888-835-5322. You will not be charged a fee to report a complaint.
Or, if all else fails, you could just thumb the volume button.
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