Broadcasters and Pay TV distributors will have to make sure that ads have the same average volume as the shows they accompany according to the rules the FCC adopted today. It will take a year before the regulations that implement a congressional mandate — the 2010 Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act (also known as the CALM Act) — take effect. When they do, consumers shouldn’t have to lunge for the remote control to avoid volume spikes for sales pitches. While the order sounds straightforward, the industry had big concerns: Cable and satellite companies warned the FCC that they might not be able to monitor all of the channels they carry. To deal with that, the FCC says the distributors are off the hook if they can get channels to certify that their ads comply with the rules. Large pay TV providers will be subject to spot checks every two years; regulators will investigate smaller operators if there’s a pattern of complaints. In addition, pay TV and broadcast companies urged commissioners to just apply the mandate to paid commercials, not promotional announcements including spots for upcoming shows. The industry lost that battle: The FCC rules apply to commercials and promotions alike.
Interest groups from all sides say they’re satisfied with results. The National Association of Broadcasters says the rules “struck the right balance.” The American Cable Association also commended the regulators. Consumers Union Policy Counsel Parul Desai called the law “a relatively simple and straightforward measure that has really struck a chord with consumers.”