It’s About Time for CALM

The government is finally doing something about loud television commercials. Congress passed the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act (CALM) last year and the Federal Communications Commission just issued the regulations against blasting viewers off their couches during commercial breaks. The regulations go into effect in December 2012.

Sometimes the government gets a good idea. After all, some commercials are 20 dB or more louder than the shows. The public hates it when they fall asleep to the boring susurrus of a Leno monologue only to be startled awake by a commercial for Requip or another medication for an imaginary illness. We wouldn’t need so damned much Lipitor and Ambien if we could get a decent night’s sleep. Waking us up after a segment of Leno should have been recognized as a public health problem years ago. People turn on the “Tonight” show because they want to sleep. If they wanted excitement, C-Span or HGTV would be more fun to watch.

A Harris poll last year found that loud television commercials aggravated 86% of Americans surveyed, which indicates that 14% of us either do not watch television or have serious hearing problems. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski boasted, “It is a problem that thousands of viewers have complained about, and we are doing something about it.” He has plenty to crow about. Congress and the FCC took the bull by the horns on this one, and it only took 60 years! I guess they were waiting for the bull to get so old and weak that they wouldn’t have to worry about being gored.

The subject of noisy commercials cannot omit mention of Billy Mays. As sad as his death was for his family, it is fortunate that he did not live to see a law against commercials that are louder than the surrounding programs. He would have been devastated.


John B. Payne, Attorney
Garrison LawHouse, PC
Dearborn, Michigan 313.563.4900
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 800.220.7200
©2011 John B. Payne, Attorney

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