Super-loud TV commercials one step closer to extinction [ArsTechnica]
The Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act has nearly progressed to the point of becoming law. The legislation, sponsored by California Representative Anna Eshoo, is set to make important changes that will help resolve differences in volume levels between TV programming and commercials. If you've watched cable programming then saw commercials with much louder audio, you likely have a keen understanding why Congress is grappling with this issue.
This is a far more complicated issue than it seems, especially in a digital world with hundreds of different channels. A lack of strict standards makes it very hard for companies who insert commercials, such as local broadcasters and cable operators, to match the audio levels of the network program. For instance, remember how Jack Bower always talked in a whisper on Fox's hit series "24"? Well, most of us turned up the volume to be able to hear him. Then, a commercial was inserted and -- BOOM! -- it knocked you out of your seat.
The CALM Act has now passed the U.S. Senate, having advanced from the House of Representatives. While there are differences between the versions passed by each chamber, they are expected to be resolved. Once the House and Senate have agreed on those changes, the CALM Act will be sent to the president for his signature.
The bill includes the Advanced Television Systems Committee's (ASTC) recommended practices for handling variances in programming and advertisement volume, and once passed cable and satellite operators and broadcasters would be required to implement the CALM requirements to normalize volume levels within a year.
Even though I know we, at Insight (like everyone else in the industry), have had our difficulties regulating the audio levels of commercials, I have long supported this bill. Why? Because setting mandatory standards is the only way I can think of to resolve this very annoying problem. Let's hope it works.