TV viewers finally should get some relief from a major annoyance: excessively loud commercials.
On Thursday, the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act, which limits the volume of TV commercials, goes into effect. The federal law, known as CALM, requires broadcasters to ensure that TV commercials maintain the same volume as the entertainment programming in which the ads are contained.
Prompted by an outcry from irritated consumers, Congress more than a year ago passed the law, sponsored by Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Menlo Park). It will be enforced by the Federal Communications Commission.
Viewers can report super-loud commercials to the FCC on the agency's website or by calling 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-225-5322).
It would seem like an easy enough fix for broadcasters, but solving the volume problem required advances in technology -- and equipment upgrades for TV stations and cable and satellite TV operators that are responsible for modulating the volume.
Normal listening levels are about 70 decibels for a television show, but levels can vary. Sound metering equipment long used by broadcasters was not sensitive enough to discern fluctuations in volume.