CALM Act Rules Enacted

This week the Federal Communications Commission enacted regulations that implement the provisions of the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act, which was passed last year by Congress. Under the new rules, which take effect on December 13, 2012, advertisements cannot be louder than the programming surrounding them.

“TV commercials, such as those for OxiClean, ShamWow!, HeadOn and the like, will never be the same,” Commissioner Robert McDowell said before the 4-0 vote. “Family rooms across America might be a little less noisy.”

In my own humble opinion, the CALM act is yet another example of a tepid response to a non-existent problem; a lame effort to remove the “do-nothing” tarnish of a Congress paralyzed by partisanship.   Advertisements are the driving force behind free TV entertainment, and if a consumer doesn’t want to listen to them, I would point out that most if not all televisions manufactured after 1985 come with a mute button on the remote.

In fact, a truly clever advertiser can follow the rules to the letter and still blast consumers.  All they need to do is to play two commercials in a row, with the first one played at half the volume of the surrounding programming.  Most consumers will naturally increase the volume during the first spot, and will then be blasted by the second one, which will be played at the same volume as the program, but sound twice as loud for those hapless consumers who previously upped the volume.

Again, all this manipulation can be avoided by pressing the mute button.

Author: Seth Heyman
Seth D. Heyman is a California attorney with extensive experience in advertising and marketing law, corporate law, contracts, governmental regulations, international business, and Internet law. He has counseled numerous successful companies, both public and private, and was responsible for regulatory compliance, contract management, corporate governance, and HR best practices for multiple organizations in many diverse industries, including marketing, telecommunications, energy, and technology development. He offers insight and guidance on federal and state direct mail, TV, radio, telemarketing, and Internet marketing laws, as well as online promotions, Internet privacy, data protection regulations, and similar matters.

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