Complaints about loud TV commercials drop

TV watchers are making fewer and fewer complaints about how loud commercials are.

A Federal Communications Commission report showed that the complaints it received for overly loud commercials had declined by nearly seven times from January to December of 2013.

Under the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act, the FCC bars commercials from being broadcast at louder volumes than the TV shows they accompany. The FCC's rules prohibiting loud commercials went into effect in December 2012.

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Last January, the FCC received 4,405 complaints for commercial loudness. By December, that number had dropped to 656.

“There continues to be a general downward trend in complaints related to loud commercials since December 2012,” the head of FCC’s enforcement bureau, P. Michele Ellison, wrote in the report.

In all, the commission received more than 20,000 complaints since the rules took effect in late 2012. Of those, more than 14,500 were referred to the commission’s enforcement bureau.

The FCC also analyzes the complaints for patterns and trends of abuse. In the report, the commission said it had identified more than one instance of a trend of rule violations, but it did not go into details about the offenders because the investigations are active.

Last year, the FCC updated the form for consumers to register complaints about commercials' volume, which “should increase completeness and specificity.” Financial issues have held back the rollout of the new forms, but the FCC pledged to release them “as soon as funding is available.”

The report was sent last week to Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), who wrote the CALM Act, but was released on Thursday. Eshoo is the ranking member on the Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Communications and Technology.