FCC Seeks Input on CALM Act Rules

The FCC is seeking comments from consumers and the video industry on whether the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act (CALM Act) rules have been effective in preventing loud television commercials. Consumers are encouraged to provide specific information about TV commercials that seem louder than other programming on broadcast and cable TV. Commenters are asked to provide input on whether updates to the rules are needed due to improvements in technology or new industry practices. Comments are due on June 3, 2021.

Rep. Anna G. Eshoo, who authored the CALM Act, recently sent the FCC a letter citing data that shows a sharp rise in TV advertisement loudness complaints from April 2020 through February 2021. Rep. Eshoo urged the FCC to investigate the rise in complaints and to take enforcement actions. To date, the FCC has apparently never taken an enforcement action under the law, despite receiving thousands of complaints.

The CALM Act rules went into effect over a decade ago, and apply to digital TV broadcasters, digital cable operators, and other digital multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs). They do not apply to online streaming services, because the FCC does not have authority over those services. While the FCC lacks jurisdiction over online streaming, the Audio Engineering Society’s (AES) technical committee is developing a program it hopes will be elevated to a standard within 4 to 5 months. If it works, Congress may not need to consider legislation to regulate variable volumes on streaming ads.

Television broadcasters are reminded to carefully review their compliance with the CALM Act rules. Broadcasters must make commercially reasonable efforts to install, use, maintain, and repair their loudness mitigation equipment to be considered compliant.

If you have questions about CALM Act requirements, or are interested in filing comments in the proceeding, please contact any attorney in our office.

Categories: Broadcast and Media

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