While you and your family might not agree on who controls the remote and what to watch on TV—a new but soon-to-be-canceled sitcom, reruns of "Law & Order," or some cringe-inducing reality show—there probably is one thing on which all of you can concur: Many television commercials are obnoxiously and ear-splittingly loud.
But some peace and quiet is coming to homes across the country, courtesy of the Commercial Advertising Loudness Mitigation Act, or CALM Act. The law, which took effect at the end of 2012, requires broadcast, cable, satellite, and other video providers to keep the volume of commercials at a level that matches the programming.
Consumers Union has long supported such a law, first sponsored by Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.). Three years ago, we testified before Congress (PDF) in support of the move. Before the law took effect, the only recommendation the FCC had was for you to mute commercials that were especially loud.
Representative Eshoo notes that loud commercials have been a top consumer complaint for decades; they are listed as such in 21 of the FCC's 25 quarterly reports between 2002 and 2009. In her push for the law, Eshoo often cited a 2009 Harris poll that said almost 90 percent of TV viewers are bothered by high commercial volumes.
We’ll continue to keep an ear out for commercials that are still too noisy, and you can, too. File a complaint about commercials that seem louder than the programming on this FCC page or through the agency’s Consumer Call Center (888-225-5322).