Storms have battered both coasts, gas prices are rising with no end in sight, and one-half of the country doesn’t like the president -- but all Americans can probably agree they hate loud commercials. There’s nothing worse than falling asleep on the couch watching a football game or “Desperate Housewives” and then suddenly be shaken awake by an obnoxious car commercial that seems to threaten to blow out the television's speakers.
Beginnning Dec. 13, those commercials will cease to exist. That's when the U.S. Federal Communications Commission will start enforcing in earnest the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act, or CALM Act, enacted in 2010. The FCC's new rules will require broadcast-television stations and pay-TV providers to make sure advertisements have the same average volume as the programs they accompany, the agency said on its website.
The affected companies will have had a year to get ready for the FCC's new regulations, which were OK'd on Dec. 13 of last year.
“This is an issue people care about," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said at that time, according to the New York Daily News. "My wife has wondered for years when we were going to do something about this. ... Most of us have ... experienced this ourselves: You're watching your favorite television program, or the news, and all of a sudden, a commercial comes on, and it sounds like someone turned up the volume -- but no one did. Today, the FCC is quieting a persistent problem of the television age: loud commercials.”
The FCC is notoriously unpopular, criticized by Hollywood for decades and a favorite target of online-freedom advocates angry over a rumored tax on the Internet, according to DailyTech.com. However, the commission has curried favor with a recent announcement that it will test data-speed claims by units of telecommunication giants such as Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T).
“We're glad that consumers are finally going to get some relief from extra-loud TV ads,” Parul P. Desai, policy counsel for Consumers Union, told the Los Angeles Times last year. “People have been complaining about the volume of TV commercials for decades.”
Even “Modern Family” co-creator Steve Levitan is happy about the decision.
“It may be the single best thing government has ever done," he told the L.A. Times last year. "Now if they could just mute the volume of political ads, I'd be thrilled."