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Shh! FCC Turns Down Commercial Volume
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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The Commercial Advertising Loudness Mitigation, or CALM, officially goes into effect today. The CALM Act, passed in 2010, requires that commercials be at the same volume or lower than the program they accompany. The CALM Act, passed via voice vote in the House and unanimously in the Senate, will not be held under strict monitoring by the FCC, but the FCC will judge compliance based on the number of consumer complaints.

The FCC notes that "commercial loudness" during show breaks has been one of the leading complaints since its call center starting recording complaint types in 2002.

Since 2008, there have been 1,000 complaints about advertising volume levels, and 5,000 inquiries.

Why did it take so long for a bill about this to be passed? The article states that the FCC has had a difficult time writing out the rule because "loudness is subjective."

Clearly, though, subjectivity is trumped by politics.

Not all politics, though. Interestingly enough, political ads must comply with the CALM Act as well. Good timing.

What effect will this have on TV advertising? Little to no effect, really. In the game the industry plays with the regulators, this can be chalked up as a moral victory. The politicians and regulators involved have something — though little — to brag about to their constituents, saying how they are fighting back against the messenger of Corporate America.

Who knows? Maybe they did us a favor.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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