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Congress Passes CALM Act, Regulates TV Commercial Volume



Congress apparently took a break from still arguing about unemployment benefits and tax rates to address a very pressing issue: TV Volume. The CALM act is crafted to solve what’s apparently a major crisis in the living room.

You know the problem…you have volume set to say 50% while watching your favorite Dancing with the Stars contestant. The music is pleasant and the judge’s critique sounds just right. But when they cut to commercials all the volume sounds at least twice as loud. In a fit of panic, you scramble for the remote to turn down the volume, but by the time you find it hidden under your sofa cushions you’ve already had to endure a whole minute of  loud commercials. You turn the volume down, which solves your TV watching problems….until the music and dancing starts again and you can’t hear it.

This is one of those problems I wish Congress would’ve let technology and the marketplace deal with. There’s already technology that exists for this problem and if enough people complained I’m willing to bet that the networks would’ve make some volume adjustments of their own. The technology being built into many home theater components that solves this problem is called Dolby Volume, which can be found in many Panasonic HDTVs and a ton of receivers. Of course the best way to deal with loud commercials is to simply skip them by using a Tivo or DVR. You can still watch live events without commercials if you just wait about 15 minutes after the hour to begin watching your favorite program.

No matter what your party affiliation may be, I’m sure we can all agree that our country has much more pressing issues than this.

via WSJ



  1. Josh Einstein

    12/03/2010 at 6:33 pm

    Now this is bipartisanship I can get behind! This problem has plagued me for years. It was one of the reasons I left Comcast because their local commercials were the worst offenders.

  2. CStevens

    12/03/2010 at 8:07 pm

    I agree that Congress has higher proirity issues to deal with. (End of political thoughts!)

    Mversion of the problem is somewhat different than what you describe.

    I seldom hear more that about 10 seconds of the higher volume because it is soon drowned out by my better half yelling “The TV is too loud.” I then yell, “It’s the commercials – they are louder! ” The screching response is “I KNOW! IT’S STILL TOO LOUD!”

    Are there any statistics on how many divorces loud commercials contribute too?

    That said, I do not have any confidience in technology or the marketplace resolving the issue. The problem is pretty much the same for Cable and broadcast. I my house, we havew 4 kids and multipole TVs. The TVs get replaced when they wear out, so it will be years before technolgy is an effective solution in my house.

    The next area congress needs to address is the practice of live TV shows running long and even worse, the deliberate scheudling of programs to not fit the time slots (e.g. 8:001 to 9:01) or beginning shows before the scheduled time (I usually miss the first 30 seconds of Big Bang Theory.)

    These are not huge issues, but are are needless frustrations in our lives. A lot of the scheduing issues are obviously deliberate.

  3. firebird112255

    12/04/2010 at 6:12 am

    Wrong. You assume everyone has HDTV, TiVo, Etc. And why should we have to go out especially in this economy, to purchase special volume controls for our televisions.
    If someone is interested in an advertised product shown on tv they will buy it. But you don’t have blast everyones ear out to get your product noticed.
    Thank you congress for finally passing this bill.

  4. Stongey

    12/06/2010 at 1:59 am

    What a ridiculous commentary. This is a problem with a long overdue sensible solution. Not everyone has the technology items to address this issue on the individual level. Done once at this level maybe we can all enjoy TV again

  5. Guest

    12/21/2010 at 7:16 pm

    Who wrote this ridiculous article, a Commercial Marketing Salesman. I hope the FCC expedites this. CNN is the worst abuser that I know of.

  6. Bayoublast1

    01/01/2011 at 7:14 pm

    Not all of us are rich enough to have all that technology. So thank you congress for saving my hearing and making the companies do what should have been the right thing to start with.

  7. Beauty

    01/21/2012 at 10:08 am

    This is definitely something that should have been fixed
    years ago. I really hate that it took so long to turn down the volume on
    commercials and it hasn’t even been in effect yet. Sure I want to hear my
    Football games and TV shows loud when I want but it doesn’t mean I want to hear
    the commercials come on even louder than them!  I just don’t think I want
    to wait to December for it to change. Especially not after DISH just released
    their new Hopper and it has a feature called TruVolume. TruVolume just levels
    out the commercials to remain the same volume as the programming you are
    watching. Being an employee with DISH I was really able to get my hands in and
    test it out and I love it.

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