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Congress

Cable Companies Want Limited Role In Turning Down The Volume

August 1, 2011

Cable companies are pushing back against suggestions that they are responsible for keeping broadcasters' commercials from blasting viewers' eardrums.

Monday was the deadline for comments on the new measure at the Federal Communications Commission. Under the 2010 Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act, or CALM Act, the FCC is tasked with making sure that commercials don't suddenly become much louder than the content they interrupt.

In a letter sent to the commission on Friday, Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., who introduced the law, urged regulators to apply the bill to all video services, not just to broadcasters.

"It was always the legislation's intent that the standard apply not just to television broadcast stations, but cable, satellite and other multi-channel video distributors," she wrote.

But the American Cable Association says the law should only apply to commercials that cable companies insert, not to broadcast content that is retransmitted.

"ACA believes the law requires cable operators to exercise control over the volume level of commercials that they insert on their own or with the assistance of third parties. But the law does not impose as broad a mandate regarding commercials embedded in upstream cable and broadcast programming that is merely passed through to subscribers by local operators," ACA President Matthew Polka said in a statement.

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