- The CALM Act was passed in 2010 and sought to rein in excessively loud advertisements.
- An Insider investigation found that, despite mounting complaints, the FCC is barely enforcing it.
- A new bill seeks to extend the CALM Act to apply to streaming services.
A new bill is on the way in Congress to change and expand the CALM Act’s regulation on the loudness of television advertisements.
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The bill passed the Senate, backed by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, and now Rep. It moves to the House of Representatives, which Anna Eshoo will try to enact into law.
The move comes with a steady rise in consumer complaints about excessively loud advertising to the Federal Communications Commission – complaints almost always go unresolved.
A 2021 Insider investigation into CALM Act enforcement at the FCC found that general practice was lax, and despite thousands of complaints, the FCC only sent two letters to criminals. The agency did not impose a single penalty for illegal television commercial loudness.
Following this investigation, Eshoo sent a letter to the FCC asking why the growing wave of complaints did not lead to enforcement actions.
One reason the FCC didn’t address some of the complaints: it featured excessively loud ads on streaming services.
High-end streaming services were not covered by the CALM Act, only cable and network television distributed by multi-channel video programming distributors or MVPDs. The new bill expands on this and directs the FCC to develop regulation covering streaming video services.
Eshoo said in a statement: “I wrote the CALM Act with Senator Whitehouse in 2010 to put an end to the popping ads on TV that are extremely offensive to consumers. Since the law was enacted, streaming services have recreated the problem of loud advertising because the old The law doesn’t apply to them, and consumers continue to complain about loud ads on broadcast, cable, and satellite TV. Today, we’re updating the legislation for the benefit of consumers who are tired of diving for the mute button at every commercial break.”
The bill also persists after the original CALM Act was applied loosely.
Bill requests a State Accountability Office report on the implementation of the CALM Act, specifically one that evaluates the “Federal Communications Commission’s ability to effectively reduce the loudness of advertisements compared to accompanying video programming.