The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

Quieting the Commercial Cacophany

Has this ever happened to you? You’re watching television, or maybe it’s on in the background while you do something else (yes, I’m one of those people), and you’ve got the television volume at a comfortable level; loud enough to hear, but not loud enough to shatter eardrums. The program-already-in-progress goes into a commercial break, and the next thing you know some guy is screaming at you to buy OxyClean or some such, causing you to jump about three feet before you dive for the remote, to turn the volume down (only to have to turn it back up again when the show starts.)

Well, Congress may finally do something about it.

No matter what you think you’ve heard, TV commercials really don’t get louder than the programs they accompany.

Production tricks only make them sound like they do. It’s called “inconsistent” or “perceived” loudness. Perceived or not, the problem likely will get worse with digital television.

The annoyance is real enough that U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo is making a federal case of it. Fed up to her ears at being blasted off the couch by commercials, the California Democrat introduced a bill in Congress called CALM — the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act. It would require the Federal Communications Commission to set standards to keep commercials from running at louder volume than the shows around them. A similar rule in England takes effect next month.

“There’s been a shockingly lot of reaction,” said Eshoo aide Jason Mahler, who noted that the bill quickly picked up nine co-sponsors. “It’s all been favorable.”

This has been somewhere near the bottom of my “There Oughta Be a Law” file for a while now, but I’d love to see it passed. Anna, why not slip it quietly (get it) into some “must pass” funding legislation?

3 Comments

  1. This has been a thorn in my side for a long time. I’d have the tv on as background noise while trying to rock my daughter to sleep after nursing her. She was one of those children that didn’t sleep much and this method worked. Until one of those commercials would come on waking her up for the next ten hours. I don’t think we need to have laws passed for everything and this is certainly a silly one but I would love to see this one passed.

  2. I’d have the tv on as background noise while trying to rock my daughter to sleep after nursing her. She was one of those children that didn’t sleep much and this method worked. Until one of those commercials would come on waking her up for the next ten hours.

    I’ve had the exact experience — minus the nursing, of course — with both Parker and Dylan. In fact, it was having that experience with Dylan that made inspired this post when I read about the law.

  3. This is good news! I hope it goes through.

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