December 23rd, 2009
05:25 PM ET
5 months ago

Bill would turn down volume of TV commercials

Washington (CNN) - It's after dinner. You're tired. You ease yourself into a comfortable place to watch your favorite TV show. Suddenly you're jolted from your couch potato demeanor by a commercial break.

It's an ad for insurance or rum or a credit card - and it's blaring, invading your calm and boosting your blood pressure.

Marketers want the loud commercials to grab viewers' attention.

A California congresswoman, however - and her fellow politicians in the House - find them more annoying than effective.

In her crusade to eliminate the nuisance, Rep. Anna Eshoo authored the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act, or CALM, which mandates that TV commercials be no louder than the programs in which they appear.

Representatives unanimously passed the bill last month and sent it to the Senate for consideration.

The brief measure directs the Federal Communications Commission to develop regulations preventing ads from being "excessively noisy or strident" or "having modulation levels substantially higher than the accompanying program." The bill also addresses "average maximum loudness."

The volume of television commercials is a common complaint among viewers. One man told CNN, "Every time you put on the TV and try and watch a show, the next thing you get are these really loud commercials."

A woman added, "I usually mute the television."

"This is a dumb bill but I love it. I really do," said media analyst Mark Hughes. He said that for irritated Americans it strikes a nerve, even though it's not a huge political issue.

"It's important to people. And it's important in my household that I don't wake up the kids when they're sleeping, and I don't tick off my wife when she tells me to turn it down" because of a commercial's high volume.

Eshoo said she's been swamped with mail, e-mail and phone calls from people who have thanked her for the bill.

Political strategist John Ashford said there is some attraction to an issue that is manageable, as opposed to the complex issues Congress often struggles with.

"Having worked on Capitol Hill and now working in public relations, I know that when Congress can't solve big problems like Iraq and Afghanistan and 10 percent unemployment and how to implement this health care bill they are trying to pass, they turn to small problems like blasting television commercials.

Under the measure, advertisers and production houses would have one year to adopt technology that modulates and sets sound levels - and apply it to TV commercials.

The FCC will do its part, a source there said.

– CNN's Louise Schiavone contributed to this report.

soundoff (114 Responses)
  1. Marie Laveaux

    Great, now pass a law that bans poorly made commercials for local businesses that have children singing off key or shouting some dumb slogan. Please ban any commericials about antacids, stool softeners,laxatives or other creepy stuff, and any drug for erectile dysfunction.

    December 23, 2009 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  2. Henry Miller, Libertarian, Cary, NC

    As much as I hate noisy, intrusive, commercials, the Federal government has no Constitutional authority to regulate their volume.

    December 23, 2009 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  3. jack

    Way over due, the marketeers who think it grabs your attention are only looking at the wrong side of the coin so too speak. Granted, it may make you look at the set, but only to question if something is wrong. It has never grabbed my attention and made me feel compelled to watch. Just the opposite. I turn my disgust toward the product or service being offered. Speaking for myself, I refuse to buy from them but instead seek out their competitor and give them my business. It's my way of payback for bad marketing .

    December 23, 2009 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  4. JES

    Now this is a bill I think everyone can agree on.

    December 23, 2009 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  5. phoenix86

    First the dems demonized Rush. Then the voters. Then the banks. Then insurance companies. Now Madison Avenue.

    Wake up America, your turn is coming.

    Democrats, The Party of Hate.

    December 23, 2009 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  6. Pepe

    These people want to regulate everything under the sun...and moon...and under the sea....but most of all everything within your home.

    December 23, 2009 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  7. patsy norvell

    wonderful bill- I'm hate the volume increase of commercials!

    December 23, 2009 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  8. Anon

    Thank you congress. This is exactly why we elected you.

    December 23, 2009 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  9. Michael

    Finally, common sense works its way up into the government. We the people have been complaining about this for thirty years.

    December 23, 2009 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  10. RH

    Big business will buy this bill, too.

    December 23, 2009 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  11. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    I hit MUTE whenever an ad comes on so they have zero effectiveness as far as I'm concerned.... I also hit MUTE whenever a republican talks.

    December 23, 2009 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  12. By the power of the people

    THANK YOU!!!! I ALSO BOYCOTT THOSE COMPANIES WHICH SHOULD ONLY INFORM – BUT DECIDE TO ALMOST HARRASS. Can we not live in a world where it doesn't take a law to dictate common sense and civility? Banks, Political figures and Ads seem not go get it. Thus another law. When will people just learn the golden rule instead of living for the last ripped off dollar. Regulate until the get it. Thanks for this law and giving us back our lives.

    December 23, 2009 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  13. rob

    This one goes to eleven.

    December 23, 2009 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  14. Geeze...

    OMG - now we need the governmnt to turn down our TVs?

    And if you sneeze and annoy your neighbors? Will the government also "scold/fine" you for that?

    And what if you run your shower too long?

    And what if you drive to a grocery story that is NOT closest to your house?

    And what if you keep your Christmas lights on longer than you "should."

    Idiots! This is jutst getting funnier and funnier and sadder and sadder __ LOL!

    December 23, 2009 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
1 2 3 4 5