Oct 1

Written by:
10/1/2010 9:49 AM  RssIcon

Now, thanks to the power of legislation, Americans can be safe from loud TV commercials. The Senate passed the Commercial Advertising Loudness Mitigation Act this week because it was easier to agree on than something that matters. The CALM Act will compel the FCC to regulate the volume of TV commercials.

I have to wonder how many staff hours on Capitol Hill were spent crafting the CALM Act. How many cigars, brandies, golf games and steak dinners went into it. I wonder how many votes on what were traded, or if it’s just one of those easy-peasies that makes it appear that federal lawmakers can actually agree on something.

If the president signs it, I’ll be flabbergasted. Therefore, I am prepared to be flabbergasted. How hard is it to hate on loud TV commercials? God forbid I should ever meet the guy from Mattress Warehouse with a fish filleter in my handbag. But seriously. A law? Where are all the anti big-government folks? We actually need a federal law to control the volume on our TV sets, of which there are more than people in the United States?

“Excessively loud television advertisements may seem like a small thing,” Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.) when the Commerce Committee passed CALM. “But they are a big source of irritation for many television viewers.”

The troops in Afghanistan and Iraq must be just delirious to know that Congress will not tolerate irritation.

I do wish that everyone who voted for the CALM burlesque would sit through the subsequent engineering conferences. I wish there was even a modicum of technical awareness in the creation of such a bill. But this is one of those Yul Brenner-as-Pharaoh things--so let it be written, so let it be done. Because TV is just a singular stream of pictures and sound pumped into the RCA console for display in the home living room. Not. It’s a mélange of disparate segments, signals, formats, files, data and information--often created and combined on the fly--that has to traverse several thousand miles through various infrastructures and obstacles--intact.

That it happens at all is kind of a miracle. Every time I’m around TV engineers who deign to explain what they do in terms a six-year-old would understand, my head nearly explodes. (That’s not to say that Engineer vs. Engineer thing you do isn’t tedious. Yes, I’m talking to you.) Be that as it may, the folks on the technical side of TV are pretty sharp. They get that A) people are annoyed by screaming Mattress Warehouse Dude. B) Annoyed people turn of the TV and go outside. C) Outside is not where TV ratings are generated. D) TV ratings predicate their paychecks.

And why, I have to wonder, can’t TV sets be programmed to buffer radical audio shifts? Why don’t they have automatic gain control, filters, limiters and audio compressors? Oh, yeah. Many do. Setting the controls is apparently a big source of irritation to many viewers.


6 comment(s) so far...


McAdams On: CALM, Schmalm

B) Annoyed people turn (off) the TV and go outside.

By on   10/4/2010 7:01 AM

McAdams On: CALM, Schmalm

Disagree. I swear TV shows are being edited at -3, -6db and movie dialogue is mixed at that level while commercials are at 0 db. For movies, I guess that's why songs in the soundtrack are so loud. When I import songs from CDs they are at 0 or louder. This is being treated as a threat to broadcasting's existence or something? Please! You guys have had how many years of people complaining about it and the industry's solution is more expensive equipment to attempt to regulate it?! Or it's being treated here as too mundane and unimportant for Congress. Ha! Not when they waste much more time on passing bills recognizing things like international slap your forehead day or whoever wins the next superbowl or World Series.

By on   10/1/2010 3:11 PM

McAdams On: CALM, Schmalm

For some reason I thought this had already been passed 5 years ago. Guess I heard it was up for a vote and our useless, lobbyist bought, piece of crap politicians never passed it. Even though it seems like a fairly pointless act, seriously how freaking annoying is it when you're watching TV and you have to reduce your volume by 50% when a certain commercial comes on? Why didn't this pass the last time? Lobbyists and money. Your government is a joke and this is the most basic example of that.

By on   10/19/2010 3:39 PM

McAdams On: CALM, Schmalm

or annoyed people skip over the commercials with their TiVos and DVRs.

By on   10/1/2010 10:36 AM

McAdams On: CALM, Schmalm

Chuckling as I tweak the Optimod...

By on   10/1/2010 1:53 PM

McAdams On: CALM, Schmalm

Viewers shouldn't be required to adjust their TVs to your programming. Nor should they be required to engage auto gain control/limiting /compression etc which degrades the quality of properly balanced audio. When programs are submitted for broadcast there is QC process. Commercials should have to go through the same.

By on   10/1/2010 1:32 PM

Your name:
Gravatar Preview
Your email:
(Optional) Email used only to show Gravatar.
Your website:
Add Comment   Cancel 

Thursday 11:07 AM
The Best Deconstruction of a 4K Shoot You'll Ever Read
With higher resolutions and larger HD screens, wide shots using very wide lenses can be a problem because they allow viewers to see that infinity doesn’t quite resolve into perfect sharpness.

Featured Articles
Discover TV Technology