- December 29, 2011
- Posted by: Seth Heyman
- Categories: Marketing & Advertising Law, Regulatory Compliance
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.