Almost Silent Night?

Don’t we all just live for those moments? Your favorite show or movie has a tender, emotional scene, the screen fades to black, and then you get blasted out of your chair by “HEADON!! Apply directly to the forehead!“. The jarring differences between the volume levels of the programming content and advertisements has been a problem for almost as long as there has been broadcast commercial television. We drew a step — albeit a baby step — closer to a solution this week.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 1084, the “Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act“, which is also known by its acronym, the “CALM Act”. (Washington sure does love a good acronym. And apparently they also love some terrible ones, too.) I already covered the details of the act back in October, but it basically requires that commercials be no louder than the average volume of the programming content with which they appear. The bill had 90 co-sponsors signed up, and passed by a voice vote.

It’s a step in the right direction, but we’ve still got a long way to go. A companion bill — S 2847 — has been introduced in the Senate, and has been referred to the Senate Commerce Committee. At present, it appears that the committee has not yet scheduled any action on the bill. It is possible that the bill will not even get to the Senate for a vote this year; this is just one of more than 100 bills before the committee.