In good news for the easily startled, no longer will TV commercials blast your eardrums during show breaks: Today the FCC's CALM rules go into effect. The Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act requires television ads to have "the same average volume as the programs they accompany."
CALM was established last December, and broadcasters and pay-TV providers were giving the intervening year to come into compliance. Only those who can show "financial hardship" can get a waiver, for an additional year.
So what can you do if a commercial seems louder than the show it's accompanying? First, alert the FCC at http://www.fcc.gov/complaints. Click on the Complaint Type button that's labeled Broadcast (TV and Radio), Cable, and Satellite Issues, and then click the Category button called Loud Commercials.
The FCC will need the following information to check into your complaint:
- State if you watched the commercial on pay TV (such as on cable or satellite) or if you watched it on a broadcast television station using an antenna;
- The name of the advertiser or product promoted in the commercial;
- The date you saw the commercial;
- The time you saw the commercial;
- The name of the TV program during which you saw the commercial;
- Which TV station (by call sign and/or channel number and the station's community) or pay TV provider (with its system location) transmitted the commercial; and
- If you watched the commercial on pay TV, the channel number on which you saw it and the cable programmer or network, such as CNN or HBO.