US Congress celebrates a quieter America
TV viewing could soon sound a little calmer as the CALM Act, which limits the volume of TV commercials, goes into effect on Thursday.PT0M57S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2bdoh 620 349 December 14, 2012
WASHINGTON: In the end it took an act of Congress, but US television advertisers are finally required to do something parents have been pleading for for decades: turn down their excessively loud ads.
"A small bill with a big impact for the American consumer" is how Representative Ann Eshoo described the CALM Act, which came into force on Thursday to the blessed relief of countless television watchers. "TV is about to become quieter," she said.
For years Americans have endured television with excessively loud commercials, but the CALM Act – short for Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation – is changing that.
Democrats Anna Eshoo and Sheldon Whitehouse, who sponsored the CALM bill. Photo: AP
"The rules adopted today require that commercials have the same average volume as the programs they accompany," the Federal Communications Commission, which Congress empowered to enforce the new measures, said in a statement.
Ms Eshoo, a congresswoman from California, 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'," Eshoo told reporters.
"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, which the commission hailed as "a major step toward eliminating one of the most persistent problems of the television age – loud commercials".
Advertisers were given a year to prepare for the new rules.
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse admitted "that this is clearly not the biggest thing happening in Washington".
"But it is one less nuisance, one less annoyance for regular Americans in their regular lives."
The commission noted that complaints from viewers about loud commercials began in the earliest days of television and had been among the leading causes of complaints since 2002, when the agency launched a call centre.