TV Commercial Volume to CALM Down

FCC rules now require commercials to have the same average volume as the programs they accompany.

Thanks to a new law, TV viewers won't have to reach for the remote to save their hearing when Grey's Anatomy cuts to commercial tonight.

The CALM Act , signed by Obama in 2010 and passed by the Federal Communications Commission a year ago today, puts a stop to blaring ads that come on at a higher volume than the shows they interrupt.

CALM stands for Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation. The regulations require cable and broadcast stations to keep commercials no louder than the average volume of the show they accompany.

The original bill was passed in September 2010 during the lame-duck session of Congress. More than two years later, ultra-loud commercials could mean repercussions for the stations broadcasting them.

Communications commission staff will rely on viewers to report noisy ads that they think are out of compliance.

The FCC gave television stations a year to implement the new rules. Stations can apply for an extension. Two waivers have already been granted, but by mid-March both of those stations will also have to get the ads under control.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, R-R.I., sponsored the CALM Act when it was first introduced three years ago on Dec. 8, 2009.

"Loud TV commercials have been among the most common consumer complaints to the FCC for decades now," Whitehouse said in an email today. "While this is a small issue compared to the big challenges facing our nation, it is an unnecessary annoyance in the daily lives of many Americans, and I'm glad to have done something about it."

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