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Loud TV ads banned after volumes of complaints
Scripps Howard News Service


December 22, 2010

WASHINGTON - Those annoying, screaming TV ads that have jolted viewers far too long will soon disappear from the tube.

America is turning down the volume. And the man behind the breakthrough legislation -- Rhode Island Democrat Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse - is thrilled. It may be, as Whitehouse put it, "far from the most serious issue we face," but he'll probably get lots of fan mail.

Whitehouse was at the big White House in Washington, standing by as President Obama signed the bill this week to crack down on TV ads. It's called the CALM Act for Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation.

"Most Americans experience the frustration of abrasively loud television commercials, with advertisers grabbing for our attention by ramping up the volume," Whitehouse said. "Quieting these commercials to normal volume will mean one less annoyance in our daily lives."

California Democrat Rep. Anna Eshoo sponsored the House version of the CALM TV ad bill. She told reporters that the CALM Act is the most popular piece of legislation she's sponsored in her 18 years in Congress.

Irritated citizens -- particularly older people -- brought the issue to Whitehouse's attention.

Consumers have complained to the Federal Communications Commission about loud TV ads since the 1960s. Of the commission's 25 quarterly reports on consumer complaints since 2002, some 21 listed the loudness of television commercials as a top complaint.

Last year, Consumers Union testified before the House that "the CALM Act provides an elegant and common-sense solution to finally ending a 45-year consumer complaint in the United States."

The measure requires the FCC to prescribe a regulation within a year for limiting the volume of audio on commercials transmitted by television broadcast stations, cable operators and other multichannel video programming distributors. The industry would then have another year to comply.


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