Amidst the rhetoric on Capitol Hill regarding legislation involving tax breaks, pork barrel spending and other important issues, a bill is on President Obama's desk that could be considered a breakthrough law for all couch potatoes. The House and Senate both passed a measure called the CALM Act. CALM stands for Communication Advertisement Loudness Mitigation. It's a funny acronym for an issue that is very familiar to anyone who watches a lot of television.
How many times have we watched television and became irate when the commercials are considerably louder than the program we were watching? If you're like me, you frantically search for the remote control to lower the volume or press the mute button. Although I'm not a conspiracy theorist, I always thought the television station or cable company was purposely playing the commercials louder to draw attention to the advertisement.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reported last month that it has fielded more than 132,000 complaints from consumers related to the louder-than-normal commercials over the television airwaves. It is the number one complaint to the federal agency and has been a problem since the 1960s.
But, in reality, current law states that ads can't exceed the peak loudness of the existing television program. Unfortunately, the loudness factor is a bit vague. And, when a television show's last sound prior to the commercial break is a soft one, the commercial appears to be even more disruptive.
When digital technology became commonplace, the problem was exascerbated. Better television audio and high-tech television production equipment made the situation worse. But, with passage of the CALM Act, the FCC will have a mandate to regulate and enforce volume limits on commercials, ensuring that their maximum loudness does not exceed the average maximum loudness of the program they're accompanying.
Advertisers will have one year to implement the available technology to keep the volume levels in check. In the meantime, keep the remote handy since we'll have at least another year of dealing with loud commercials.
Reminder: This is the last issue of The Bottom Line for 2010. There will be no issue for the next two weeks due to the Christmas and New Year's Holidays. ROPA Publising Company would like to wish all a Merry Christmas and prosperous New Year.