Be CALM: House Bill Passes Sub-Committee

The closing scene of your favorite TV drama ends with a quiet emotional moment between the protagonist and the love interest. Fade to black. Cue the pickup truck ad with the blaring soundtrack. Cue the viewers diving frantically for their remotes, trying to turn down the volume.

Some sets have automatic volume control, which can help moderate this problem, but apparently not enough. The subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet of the House Energy and Commerce Committee has forwarded House Bill 1084 to the full committee for a vote. H.R. 1084 is titled “Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act“, which makes more sense when you realize that the Congressional love of acronyms turns this into the “CALM Act“. The goal of the legislation is to “require the Federal Communications Commission to prescribe a standard to preclude commercials from being broadcast at louder volumes than the program material they accompany.”

If the bill is made into law, the FCC will have one year to come up with provisions for video programming so that

(1) advertisements accompanying such video programming shall not be excessively noisy or strident;

(2) such advertisements shall not be presented at modulation levels substantially higher than the program material that such advertisements accompany; and

(3) the average maximum loudness of such advertisements shall not be substantially higher than the average maximum loudness of the program material that such advertisements accompany.

Passing the subcommittee is just the first hurdle, and the even if the full committee and the House pass it, it will still need approval in the Senate before it can become law. Similar laws have failed to pass in recent years, so don’t get your hopes up.

For now, the best you can hope for is a television set that has good automatic volume control, and knowing how to set it.

[Due to technical difficulties, this entry was posted late.]