Congress is set to take up a bill that aims to prevent commercials from being significantly louder than the programs they’re embedded in.

Yesterday, the House Communications, Technology and the Internet Subcommittee passed the bill on for consideration by the Commerce Committee, which must also approve the bill before it can be considered by the full House.

According to the official description of the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act (HR 6209), the bill directs the Federal Communications Commission to prescribe a regulation prohibiting advertisements accompanying video programming from:

  • Being excessively noisy or strident
  • Having modulation levels substantially higher than the accompanying program
  • Having an average maximum loudness substantially higher than that of the accompanying program

The American Cable Association commended several House lawmakers for agreeing to work with small cable operators that have expressed concerns about legislation that would order the FCC to regulate the loudness of TV commercials.

Meanwhile, the ATSC is working on developing a set of recommended practices that broadcasters could employ to mitigate excessive commercial loudness.

ATSC President Mark Richer said: “We've been working for over two years to help broadcasters, cable operators and others come up with a uniform strategy so we can minimize the subjective perception of the volume changing during commercials. Our experts have developed what we call a recommended practice, which provides guidance to broadcasters and others on how to use our standard in a way that will minimize the 'audio loudness differential,' let's call it, that is bothersome to many people. It's a little more complicated than you would think, and getting everybody to agree on how to do it was not easy.” Richer was quoted by the DailyFinance.

The technological solution might require the purchase of additional equipment, which might place a financial burden on the smallest of cable operators, so the House sub-committee is prepared to consider an exemption for smaller providers.

"ACA is pleased that some House members recognize that many small cable operators have no control over the loudness of commercials contained in local TV shows or national cable networks," ACA President and CEO Matthew Polka said. "ACA is hopeful that Congress will consider an exemption for small cable companies that do not insert their own ads and will give small operators that perform ad insertions a reasonable amount of time to come into compliance."

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