Whaaat? I Can’t Hear You.

It’s so rare that I express any sort of kindness for ANY California politician from either side of the political spectrum, but today I am feeling a small bit of fondness for one Mz Anna Eschoo.


Loud TV commercials to leave quietly, thanks to FCC

The Federal Communications Commission today is expected to pass regulations requiring broadcasters and cable and satellite TV systems to maintain constant volume levels. The order, which goes into effect one year from today, “says commercials must have the same average volume as the programs they accompany,” says FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.

Last year, President Obama signed into law a measure that Congress passed giving the FCC authority to address the problem. A Harris poll taken around that time found that 86% of people surveyed said TV commercials were louder than the shows themselves — and, in many cases, much louder. “It is a problem that thousands of viewers have complained about, and we are doing something about it,” Genachowski says.

While normal listening levels average about 70 decibels for a typical TV broadcast — 60 is equivalent to a restaurant conversation; 80 to a garbage disposal — levels on a TV channel can vary by as much as 20 decibels.

To comply with the new law, broadcasters can use audio processors to measure the loudness of a program over its entirety and adjust the volume of commercials accordingly, says Joe Snelson, vice president of the Society of Broadcast Engineers. He said the goal is to avoid an abrupt change in volume when a show goes to commercial break.

Some broadcasters and pay-TV providers already have begun implementing the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act (CALM). DirecTV spokesman Robert Mercer says the satellite provider is “ensuring that our commercial inserts are at the proper volume level and … (we) are working with our programmers to be in compliance with the rules the FCC adopts.”

Similarly, Cox Communications plans to make sure that local ads and commercials on national networks “are compliant,” says Cox spokesman Todd Smith.

“Slowly but surely, consumers are going to get something they have been wanting,” says David Butler of the Consumers Union.

“I never characterized this as saving the Union,” says Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., the original sponsor of the bill. “But consumers have been asking for it. We may not have peace in the world, but we may have more peaceful homes.”

All that said, one *might* ask why, exactly, this issue had to pass through legislature.

I mean really, people.

Original link found on Shoeboxblog.com

About Author


  • Ephraim F. Moya


    Is our TV set’s volume a reasonable subject for our legislators to spend their time on?

    I think this move can open the floodgates to a large new federal agency that can make laws without any input from congress.

    El Viejo

    • Karen Fayeth

      Ephraim – Can’t say I disagree.

      But for my own personal enjoyment, I’ll take it.

      To me the issue is that the FCC is a really f’ed up organization and evidently it takes these kinds of shenanigans to get their attention.

      • Ephraim F. Moya


        Jerry Pournelle made this “iron Law” many years ago: http://www.jerrypournelle.com/reports/jerryp/iron.html

        I think that the FCC, FAA, EPA, NASA, etc. are all in the final stage as described in this ‘law’.

        Asking any of these organizations to do something more will only result in MANY more bureaucrats with NO reduction in volume differences.

        El Viejo sordo

      • Patrick Strei

        El Sordo,

        Great to hear about Pournellle again. I adored Niven and Pournelle as a kid. glad see that Jerry is still with us.

        • Frank Conway

          Ephraim, your comment about opening “the floodgates” sounds almost quaint, as public sector jobs continue to disappear at the rate of 63,000 a month. I say “almost.” Each one of those 63,000 jobs represents a family that is paying for a problem that never existed except in the wet dream of the person who came up with the focus group tested concept of the bloated federal bureaucracy.

          And by the way, what Pornelle was talking about can’t be applied selectively to the public sector. It applies to any organization. All spend part of their efforts making sure they remain essential and in trying to maintain a monopoly for providing their service, through professional organizations, lobbying, having as much control as they can over the writing of rules and codes, and so on.

  • Alan

    Hmm. I think the inconsistency in the volume has more to do with how they were recorded/produced than anything the station does. At least that’s my understanding. It seems there would have to be a production standard rather than broadcast legislation?

    • Karen Fayeth

      Alan – Agreed. Legislation seems like a long way around the barn.

      Then again, as said above, perhaps that’s the only way to get the over bloated and arrogant FCC to pay attention.

      Not saying I agree it should be legislated, just maybe that’s all that will get the FCC to listen (pun totally intended).

  • Mrsupole

    Nooooooooooo, it is the beginning of regulation hell. It is called just change the channel or mute the remote. I just DVR everything and skip all the commercials and so who cares what volume they are.

    Actually I think they have TV’s with volume control to where everything stays at the same volume. That is a better choice. I will give it to this lady that at least she is trying but I would rather they just stayed home. Vote every politician out and keep our tax money and we should only have to pay for a few necessities that we vote are necessary. I hate taxes and those crooked politicians who steal our tax money for their crooked and criminal uses. Screw them all.

    If things don’t change soon then as we the people are getting smarter and smarter, we will just keep voting their asses out and vote that they do not get retirement pay which is another way they steal our tax money. Okay, I am stopping here.

    God bless.

  • Ephraim F. Moya


    Boy, you must be VERY high maintenance if it takes 63,000 federal employees to turn down your TV. ;-)

    El Burlero

Comments are closed.