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Robert Longley

TV Viewers Bear Burden for CALM Act Enforcement

By February 20, 2013

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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 Federal Communications Commission (FCC), has placed most of the burden for enforcement of the law squarely on TV viewers.

Background: After years of complaints, Congress in 2010 passed the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act, which directed the FCC to create federal regulations to prevent TV broadcasters from airing commercials at volumes louder than the programs in which they appear. After almost two years, the FCC's CALM Act regulations took effect on Dec. 13, 2012.

However, the order implementing its CALM Act regulations makes it clear that the FCC will not monitor TV broadcasters or programs for compliance. Instead, it will depend on complaints from the TV viewing public for taking action against violators.

"We believe that a consumer-complaint-driven procedure, rather than an audit-driven one, is the most practical means to monitor industry compliance with our rules," states the FCC order.

In addition, the FCC will take action against a broadcaster only if and when it can identify "a pattern or trend" of violations, meaning an unspecified number of viewers will have to report an unspecified number of suspected violations by a broadcaster over an unspecified period of time before the FCC will even consider acting.

And, as anybody who has actually tried filling out just one FCC Loud Commercial Complaint form, establishing "a pattern or trend" of violation is quite a chore.

"In order for us to detect whether a pattern or trend of noncompliance exists and for stations and MVPDs (cable and satellite providers) to investigate them, it is essential that consumer complaints be specific in describing the commercials complained of, as well as identifying the station or MVPD and programming network on which the commercials appeared," states the FCC regulation.

"As a general matter, nonspecific complaints will not be actionable."

Also See: How to Report CALM Act Violations


March 1, 2013 at 10:16 am
(1) Lorina says:

So in other words, the FCC is under corporate control. Just like how there’s a cabal on the media in this country. I really doubt most people know that it’s up to them to contact the FCC. Are there going to be PSA’s in that regard?

January 24, 2014 at 10:45 pm
(2) Kenneth says:

Nothing difficult or time consuming about filling out the Form 2000G. I’ve done probably a dozen of them. There’s little I hate more than being woken by a loud commercial! Will there enough others that do the same so as to establish the required pattern? I don’t know but that’s NOT going to stop ME from trying.

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