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FCC Turns Down the Volume on TV Ads FCC Turns Down the Volume on TV Ads

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Technology / TECHNOLOGY

FCC Turns Down the Volume on TV Ads

FILE - In this file photo made March 12, 2010, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is interviewed at his office in Washington. Nearly two years ago, the Federal Communications Commission voted to open up unused portions of television airwaves called "white spaces" to deliver wireless broadband connections that function like Wi-Fi networks on steroids. Now the FCC is set to resolve those issues with a vote set for Sept. 23 that will set the rules of the road for using white spaces. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

December 13, 2011

The Federal Communications Commission cemented rules on Tuesday to make TV commercials a little less annoying. 

The rules prevent TV providers, such as cable and broadcast companies, from spiking the volume of commercials so they are louder than the volume viewers choose for their normal programming.

The rules passed in a unanimous, bipartisan vote, fulfilling a mandate from last year's Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act.

 

"The bottom line? Today, the FCC is quieting a persistent problem of the television age – loud commercials," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said at Tuesday's FCC meeting. 

The rules went through without backlash from industry. That's after some TV providers, including the small and medium-sized cable companies in the trade group American Cable Association, had raised concerns that the regulations might place a tough burden on small firms. The FCC added some provisions to soften the blow on companies, including a one-year delay in implementing the rules.

“ACA sincerely appreciates the FCC’s time and attention throughout the rule-making process in seeking to understand and mitigate the potential burdens that this legislation could impose on smaller operators. After the FCC releases its order, ACA hopes to see this reflected in the adopted rules," ACA President Matthew Polka said in a statement after the rules passed. 

National Association of Broadcasters spokesman Dennis Wharton said in a statement that the FCC "struck the right balance in implementing the CALM Act and look forward to working with them going forward."

Genachowski pointed to data showing loud commercials are a thorn in the side of TV viewers, noting the FCC "has received almost 6,000 complaints or inquiries about loud commercials since 2008."

The lack of urgency around the issue still won a little teasing, even from those who supported the rules. 

"From this point forward, TV commercials, such as those for OxyClean, ShamWow!, HeadOn, and the like, will never be the same," McDowell said. "Family rooms across America might be a little less noisy as the result of our implementation of Congress’s will. The directly elected representatives of the American people have mandated that the FCC muffle the sudden volume increases of TV commercials and today we are giving that endeavor our best shot, absent reaching for our remote controls’ volume or mute buttons."

Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., who sponsored the legislation, commended the FCC's work. 

"The law I wrote is simple – the volume of television commercials cannot be louder than regular programming. Households across the country will soon get the relief they deserve from the annoyance of blaringly loud television commercials," she said in a statement. 

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