FCC’s Media Bureau Inquires about Loud Commercials

In response to an inquiry by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D CA), the FCC has issued a Notice asking for comment about loud commercials.  The Public Notice Stated:

“These rules have been in effect now for many years and have been revisited only once since initial adoption to adopt minor changes.3 We seek comment on the extent to which our rules have been effective in preventing loud commercials. In particular, we invite consumers to tell us their experiences as they watch programming provided by television broadcasters and MVPDs. Further, we seek input from all stakeholders on whether the Commission’s CALM Act rules are effectively serving their intended purpose and on specific areas in which commenters believe updates are needed given improvements in technology or new industry practices.”

The CALM Act was designed to address this problem for television more than a decade ago, by providing an engineering solution. Essentially stations employed technology to ensure that the decibel level of the advertisement reflected the decibel level of the surrounding programs. This solution references the TV broadcast (ATSC) transmission standard.

Technology has changed.  For example, loud commercial rules do not apply to streaming.  Moreover the law focused on TV and not radio.

This issue bears watching, as it is driven by an increasing number of consumer complaints. Of course a large number of these complaints involve streaming services.  It gets complicated for local broadcasters because much of the advertising content is embedded in network and syndicated programs. Moreover, we have to make sure local advertisements within the content do not exceed certain noise levels.

To see the FCC’s Public Notice click HERE.


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