FCC receives nearly 16,000 complaints of loud TV commercials

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has received 15,850 complaints about loud TV commercials since new regulations went into effect in December of last year.

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. The FCC's complaints run through June 5.

In the first month that the regulations were in place, the FCC received 4,777 complaints about potential violations. The number of complaints has since died down after the initial publicity surrounding the new rules, the agency said. 

The FCC made the disclosure in response to a letter from Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseOvernight Regulation: Net neutrality supporters predict tough court battle | Watchdog to investigate EPA chief's meeting with industry group | Ex-Volkswagen exec gets 7 years for emissions cheating Overnight Energy: Watchdog probes Pruitt speech to mining group | EPA chief promises to let climate scientists present their work | Volkswagen manager gets 7 years for emissions cheating EPA head pledges to protect climate scientists MORE (D-R.I.), the sponsors of the CALM Act, which authorized the new regulations.

The FCC has yet to issue any fines for violations of the rules, but the commission said it is continuing to review the complaints, looking for "patterns or trends."

"The data provided by consumers, however, is often not sufficiently specific or consistent to facilitate reliable analysis," the agency wrote in the report.

The FCC said plans to improve the complaint form to produce more useful data has been postponed due to budget cuts as part of sequestration.  

"While it has only been a short time since the rules became effective, please be assured that we take seriously our responsibilities under the CALM Act," acting FCC Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn wrote in response to the two lawmakers.

Eshoo and Whitehouse issued statements on Tuesday calling on the FCC to release quarterly reports on enforcement of the CALM Act.

“While the initial data from the FCC does not conclusively indicate the effectiveness of the CALM Act yet, it does demonstrate that consumers remain highly committed to keeping the volume of TV commercials at a reasonable level,” Eshoo said.

“The CALM Act is already cracking down on needlessly loud TV commercials, and quarterly progress reports would provide interested viewers with timely updates on compliance with the law,” Whitehouse said.