In December, 2010, President Obama signed the Commercial Advertising Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act, which required television broadcasters to turn down the volume on those annoyingly loud commercials that suddenly blast your ears out during your favorite TV shows. The new law ordered broadcasters to air commercials at the same average volume as the TV shows during which they appear. But now, almost two years later, TV commercials are still annoyingly loud. So what happened to the law?
It’s about to come into effect. The CALM Act gave broadcasters a huge amount of time to get ready to turn the racket down. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) had until December 15, 2011 to create regulations for TV commercial volumes, and then it was one more year until the new rules went into effect. The new rules go into effect on December 13, 2012. That’s also when enforcement starts. The CALM Act applies to all television stations, cable and satellite broadcasters, basically any form of pay TV. But don’t give up the mute button is just yet. Complying with the new rules requires broadcasters to buy new equipment, and the ACT allows broadcasters to ask the FCC for a one-year waiver if they can prove they will suffer financial hardship due to the new regulations. Nevertheless, the new rules do go into effect December 13, so if you are still encountering TV commercials after then that suddenly blast your eardrums out, you can file a complaint with the FCC by calling 1-888-CALL FCC (1-888-225-5322), or fax your complaint to 1-866-418-0232, or send it by mail to FCC Consumer and Government Affairs Bureau, Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division, 445 12th Street SW, Washington, D.C. 20554. Include the time, channel, a description of the offending commercial, whether you were watching pay TV or broadcast television using an antenna, and your contact information. A fact sheet about the CALM Act is available here (pdf).