Update -- See: TV Viewers Bear Burden for CALM Act Enforcement
If you, like many if not most people, had visions of the government really cracking down on TV stations and cable companies that broadcast annoyingly loud commercials after enactment of the CALM Act, you had a wrong vision. The fact is that the FCC has placed most of the burden for enforcement of the law squarely on TV viewers.
The much-desired TV commercial volume control law - the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act - is now in effect, but you can bet your eardrums there will be violations. Here's when and how to report CALM Act violations.
Taking full effect on December 13, 2012, the CALM Act requires TV stations, cable operators, satellite TV operators and other pay TV providers to limit a commercial's average volume to that of the programming that it accompanies.
It May Not be a Violation
The CALM Act is enforced by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the FCC does provide a simple way to report violations. However, the FCC also advises that not all "loud" commercials are violations.
According to the FCC), while the overall or average volume of the commercial should be no louder than the regular programming, it may still have "louder" and "quieter" moments. As a result, says the FCC, some commercials may sound "too loud" to some viewers, but still comply with the law.
Basically, if all or most of the commercial sounds louder to you that the regular program, report it.
Broadcasters who fail to comply with the CALM Act regulations face significant financial penalties imposed by the FCC.
How to Report a CALM Act Violation
The easiest way to file a loud commercial complaint is by using the FCC's online complaint form at www.fcc.gov/complaints. To use the form, click on the Complaint Type button "Broadcast (TV and Radio), Cable, and Satellite Issues," and then click on the Category button "Loud Commercials." This will take you to the "Form 2000G - Loud Commercial Complaint" form. Fill out the form and click on "Complete the form" to submit your complaint to the FCC.
The "Loud Commercial Complaint" form asks for information, including the date and time you saw the commercial, the name of the program you were watching and which TV station or pay TV provider transmitted the commercial. It's a lot of information, but it is necessary to help the FCC correctly identify the offending commercial from among the tens-of-thousands of commercials aired every day.
Complaints can also be filed by fax to 1-866-418-0232 or by filling out a 2000G - Loud Commercial Complaint form (.pdf) and mailing it to:
The Federal Communications Commission
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20554.
If you need assistance in filing your complaint, you may contact the FCC's Consumer Call Center by calling 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) (voice) or 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) (TTY).