January 2, 2015 | audio, video technology

Turn Down Those Loud TV Commercials

Turn down that loud TV commercial.

The FCC regulated the volume of commercials in 2011, but it didn’t really work. Loud TV commercials still rule the tube. Now FCC is trying again. They’ve updated the algorithm which measures volume with the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (Calm) Act. Broadcast stations and cable system operators are subject to the rule.

The rule said a commercial cannot be louder than the average volume of the program. This allowed a loophole when the program included loud noise before the commercial or the commercial included a moment of silence. Either of these can increase the average so commercials could be louder than you would expect. This loophole ends June 2015 when the Federal Communications Commission will begin excluding very quiet or silent passages of a commercial when calculating the average loudness.

If you find a commercial that is louder than the program, you can file a complaint at http://www.fcc.gov/complaints. Click on TV/Broadcast/Loud Commercials. This takes you Form 2000G – Loud Commercial Complaint. The form will ask you where you saw the commercial, cable or satellite, the advertiser or product, the date and time, the program the commercial was on, TV station and channel number.

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7 thoughts on “Turn Down Those Loud TV Commercials

  1. DZNR

    I just filed one on Hallmark Movie! Watching Jesse Stone and the commercials are loud enough to set off car alarms! Yikes! Was watching on WOW Cable network – channel 71. Don’t know if they are to blame or the network themselves but I’d venture to say it’s Hallmark’s fault. Shame on them AND their advertisers.

  2. nobody

    The lobbyists exerted their power to modify any legislation or rules that would actually prevent commercials from being intrusive or overbearing. The FCC had to make it look like they were attempting to respond to the massive number of complaints. If the FCC had actually wanted put reasonable controls there would also have been limits in peak variance from the average volume of the program and a ban on use of anything but a smooth carrier wave. Without violating the current rules, a commercial can put out spikes of sound far greater those previously complained about. They have also shifted technique to modifying the base carrier signal during the commercial from a smooth sinusoidal to a signal with an embedded high frequency saw-tooth sinusoidal. When this is being used, even if the voices are fairly low and calm, the audience cannot ignore the content. The audience will experience an unexplained sense of irritation, similar to fingernails on chalkboard, even though what they are hearing seems unobtrusive. Evidence of the effect can be seen by using a high definition sound recorder. Viewing the signal as a waveform will show a jagged line, vice the smooth line during the regular programming.

  3. Rob Jackson

    Imagine if AM or FM radio had loud commercials. It would be hard to
    listen while driving. Loud TV commercials make the audio engineers look like failures compared to the radio market.

  4. Rick Demar

    The loud commercials are so obnoxious that we routinely mute the TV when our programs go to commercial. Therefore, since I am sure that we are not the only family that mutes commercials I have to wonder if loud commercials are really even effective.


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