The CALM Act: No more loud commercials

A new law states that TV commercials have to be the same volume as the programming they interrupt.

A new law called the CALM Act just went into effect. Calm stands for Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act. It means that from now on TV commercials have to be the same volume as the programming they interrupt.

For years people complained to the FCC about loud TV commercials. They also complained to advertisers.

"They were saying we aren't deaf. We don't need people screaming at us" says Daniel Jaffe, a vice president at the Association of National Advertisers. Despite the complaints Jaffe says the "less sophisticated advertisers" continued blaring ads.

And then on June 13, 2009, TV went digital.

Now, says David Day, "You can really be louder than the program, which in the analog days wasn't quite possible." Day is President of DaySequera, which makes audio equipment for TV stations. He says the increase in volume caused even more people to complain, which prompted Congress to pass the CALM Act in 2010.

President Obama signed the law on Dec. 15, 2011, and as of yesterday the FCC begins enforcing it.

The Calm Act does not apply to radio.

About the author

David Weinberg is a general assignment reporter at Marketplace.

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