FCC on Commercials: Keep CALM and Turn it Down

By Kevin Eck 

We’ve all experienced the commercial or two that seem way louder than the show we’re watching.  Well today, the FCC, urged on by Congress, is ending the national pastime of riding the remote during commercial breaks when it begins enforcing the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act, or CALM Act.

The CALM act requires all TV ads maintain the same average volume as the programs in which they appear.  The FCC rules do make allowances for some variations in volume, though.

A commercial may have louder and quieter moments, but, overall, it should be no louder than the surrounding programming. This may mean, however, that some commercials will comply with the new rules, but still sound “too loud” to some viewers.

The FCC is relying on viewers to file complaints if they find a commercial that is louder than the program it accompanies.  The complaint form can be found by clicking here.  Instructions on filling out the form can be found here.  After the jump you can see what information the FCC is looking for when a complaint is filed.

Here is the list of information the FCC needs to file a complaint.

  • State if you watched the commercial on pay TV (such as on cable or satellite) or if you watched it on a broadcast television station using an antenna;
  • The name of the advertiser or product promoted in the commercial;
  • The date you saw the commercial;
  • The time you saw the commercial;
  • The name of the TV program during which you saw the commercial;
  • Which TV station (by call sign and/or channel number and the station’s community) or pay TV provider (with its system location) transmitted the commercial; and
  • If you watched the commercial on pay TV, the channel number on which you saw it and the cable programmer or network, such as CNN or HBO.