The CALM Act went into effect at midnight last night, reminding us all what good that government is capable of doing when it puts its mind to it.
The CALM Act requires that the volume of television commercials be no louder than the average loudness of the television program during which they are run, and it allows the FCC to fine television stations that violate that rule. (If you see a commercial you think is too loud you can go to the FCC’s Complaint Webite to file a complaint.)
Previously, there was an FCC rule which required that television commercials could be no louder than the maximum loudness of the program. So if there was a gun-shot, or window breaking, or slamming door, or any other sharp loud noise in the program, the entire commercial could be run at that volume. Oh, and the FCC didn’t really have much authority to enforce the rule anyway. So what happened? Some commercials would try to “shout” at you to get your attention, and stand out from the others (or be able to be heard while you were making yourself a sandwich in the next room).
But this trend upset the viewers who were watching the commercials in the first place. Some of those viewers suffered through it, or complained, and perhaps watched a little less television as the loud commercials dropped their enjoyment of it. Some of them purchased DVR devices and started skipping all the commercials whenever they could. And some of them started muting the commercials as standard operating procedure whenever watching television.
So the interesting thing about the CALM Act isn’t that viewers will be less annoyed by loud commercials. The people who were really annoyed at them before were already finding ways around them. The CALM Act should actually result in people who were moderately annoyed at loud commercials before–those who had been muting or just suffering through–will watch more commercials now than they used to.
So consumers are happy because commercials are quieter. Businesses are happy because people are watching more commercials. Networks are happy because people are watching more commercials. Everybody wins.