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New US law makes TV commercials quieter


Washington: Television watchers in the US can say goodbye to blaring commercials while they watch their favourite shows, thanks to a new law passed by the Congress limiting the volume of ads.

The Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act (CALM) that goes into effect Thursday mandates the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to air commercials that have the same average volume as the programs they accompany.

The commercials have to be within a range of 2 decibels (db) of the program they are broadcast with, which is “the difference between viewers reaching for the remote and not,” Joe Addalia, director of technology projects for Hearst Television, told NBC’s “Today” show.

Addalia, who is responsible for figuring out the right technology to make 31 transmitters compliant with the new regulations, told “Today” that television stations don’t want viewers to reach for the remote, “because right next to the volume button is the channel button”.

Loud commercials “have consistently been one of the issues consumers are most energized to write the FCC about,” Joel Kelsey, legislative director for the media advocacy group Free Press, told “Today”.

“They don’t like being screamed at every time the program breaks to buy deodorant,” said Kelsey, who testified in Congress about the need for volume regulation on commercials.

Television broadcasters as well as cable and satellite operators are governed under the new FCC rules, which were adopted on December 13, 2011. The industry was given one year to comply with the law.