Congress finally clamps down on loud TV commercials


In the end it took an act of Congress, but U.S. television advertisers are finally required to do something parents have been pleading for for decades: turn down their excessively loud ads.

Rep. Ann Eshoo described the CALM Act, which took force on Thursday to the blessed relief of countless viewers, as “a small bill with a big impact for the American consumer.”

For years, Americans have endured excessively loud commercials, but the CALM Act — short for Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation — is changing that.

“The rules adopted today require that commercials have the same average volume as the programs they accompany,” said the Federal Communications Commission, which Congress empowered to enforce the new measures.

Eshoo said the issue hit home with her four years ago during a family dinner, when she was cooking and relatives were gathered around the tube. “Everyone was watching and talking, and then the blast arrived. . . . And I shouted out to my brother-in-law: ‘Do something about that! Turn that thing down!’ And he turned around and said to me, You’re the congresswoman, why don’t you do something about it?”

Last December, Congress approved the measure. Advertisers were given a year to prepare for the rules. Complaints from viewers about loud commercials began in the earliest days of television and had been among the leading causes of complaints to the FCC since 2002, when the agency launched a call center.