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FCC issues new rule: No more loud TV commercials

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Watching television is about to get a lot less obnoxious. No, they didn’t cancel “Jersey Shore,” sadly. It’s something better.

The Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday passed a new regulation, the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act (CALM), which requires cable and satellite TV broadcasters to maintain the same volume between shows and commercials.

“Most of us have … experienced this ourselves: You’re watching your favorite television program, or the news, and all of a sudden, a commercial comes on, and it sounds like someone turned up the volume — but no one did,” said FCC chairman Julius Genachowski in a statement. “Today, the FCC is quieting a persistent problem of the television age: loud commercials.”

According to Genachowski, the FCC has received more than 6,000 complaints about excessively loud commercials since 2008. And the Consumers Union says the problem of loud ads has appeared as a top grievance in 21 of the 25 quarterly reports it has released since 2002.

The new FCC rule requires both cable and satellite TV companies, as well as local broadcasters, to keep the volume levels of commercials in check.

CALM was originally passed by Congress in September 2010, and gave the FCC the task of addressing the problem of loud commercials. Unfortunately, CALM will not go into effect until December 2012 — an entire year from now. The FCC also reserves the right to grant a TV station a one-year waiver, and has the authority to renew the waiver for one additional year. Why would it take three years for an broadcaster to turn down the volume a bit? We haven’t a clue, but we hope the FCC never has to give these waivers.

In the meantime, the FCC reminds viewers that “manually controlling volume levels with the remote control remains the simplest way to reduce excessive loudness levels.” And adds that, “the ‘mute’ button on your TV remote is also useful to control excessively loud audio.” Thanks, FCC. We didn’t know that already.

[Image via Niv Koren/Shutterstock]