Ban on loud TV commercials takes effect

Federal regulations limiting the volume of television commercials went into effect on Thursday.

Congress passed the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act in 2010 to give the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) the authority to write and enforce the rules.

The FCC approved the regulations last year and gave the industry one year to comply.

The rules require broadcast, cable and satellite television providers to keep the average volume of commercials at the same level as the programming containing them.

"A commercial may have louder and quieter moments, but, overall ... should be no louder than the surrounding programming," the FCC explained in a consumer guide released Thursday.

Viewers can report suspected violations to the FCC.

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Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), the sponsors of the legislation, celebrated the implementation of the rules at a press conference on Capitol Hill on Thursday.

"Earsplitting television ads have jolted and annoyed viewers for decades," Eshoo said. "With this new law, loud TV commercials that make consumers run for the mute button or change the channel altogether will be a thing of the past." 

Whitehouse said loud TV commercials have long been among the most common complaints that the FCC receives.

"While this is a small issue compared to the big challenges facing our nation, it is an unnecessary annoyance in the daily lives of many Americans, and I'm glad to have done something about it," he said.

Eshoo and Whitehouse were joined at their press conference by Gordon Smith, president of the National Association of Broadcasters; Michael Powell, president of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association; and Mark Richer, president of the Advanced Television Systems Committee.