Some South Carolinians think television commercials are too loud compared to the programming, and they’re taking the matter up with the Federal Communications Commission.
The City Paper recently asked to take a look at the FCC’s database of complaints, and here were a few that we ran across from South Carolina residents:
From Ridgeway: “All commercials on all channels we watch are louder Both national networks and local.”
From Conway: “The expedia commercial starts out okay but then becomes extremely loud in the middle. Thank you for looking into this matter.”
From Bluffton: “overly loud commercial – twice as loud as program”
From Myrtle Beach: “Commercials are quite louder than the program I’m watching. It’s very irritating and annoying.”
From Awendaw: “gold bond and loreal commercials way too loud”
Again, from Awendaw: “all commercials way too loud…………..I guess networks found a way around the new law as more and more stations are ignoring it or have determined the FCC will not or cannot enforce it. I figure they are turning the programs volume way down so you have to turn it up to hear it, then commercials come on and since I had to turn the volume up to hear the program it is now too loud when the commercials come on. so the intent of the law is ignored while technically there is no violation. Leave it to lawyers to write a law that’s easy to figure a way around. I doubt the FCC is ever going to figure this out.”
All told, commercials filed under the “Loud Commercials” subcategory made up 11 of the 56 complaints we reviewed (the City Paper had actually requested the first 100 complaints of the year, the maximum number allowed before we had to pay a fee, but for some reason we received 56).
As the last complainant from Awendaw indicated, there is indeed a federal law against excessively loud commercials. The Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act, which went into effect in December 2012, requires television stations and TV providers to ensure commercials have the same average volume as the programs they accompany.
In response to continued complaints about the loudness of commercials, the FCC has announced that it will tweak the algorithm it uses to measure the relative loudness of commercials. According to an FCC document announcing the change, the new algorithm is “designed to prevent advertisers from using silent passages to offset excessively loud passages when calculating the average loudness of program material.”
The new measurement algorithm will not take effect until June 4, 2015. In the meantime, you can make complaints to the FCC by clicking here.