TV ads turn down volume

By Observer editorial December 21, 2012 12:08 pm

It’s the old joke. It’ll take an act of Congress to get New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow playing time. To get all truck drivers to chain up during snow events in the Blue Mountains. To move Northeast Oregon to the Mountain Time Zone.

Sometimes, though, believe it or not, Congress does act. And this year Congress gave American TV viewers, and that means most of you, an excellent Christmas present.

U.S. television advertisers are now going to have to turn down their excessively loud ads.

The CALM Act came into force earlier this month. For television watchers assaulted with the noise when they walk to the refrigerator or the bathroom, that should be blessed relief.

For years Americans have been slammed with television’s excessively loud commercials.

Complaints from viewers about loud commercials have been pouring in since the earliest days of television in the 1950s. And recently the volume of complaints has been going up. The FCC noted that loud television commercials been among the leading causes of complaints since 2002, when the agency started a call center to monitor public gripes.

Congress approved the measure last December, and gave advertisers a year to prepare for the new rules. The CALM Act — short for Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation — will require that commercials have the same volume as the programs they accompany. The Federal Communications Commission has been given the power to enforce the new measures.

Maybe this Christmas, when you are cooking and the family is gathered around the TV, they will still be able to hold a pleasant conversation during commercials. No one will have to yell, “Can someone turn that blasted thing down.”

There is still a lot to gripe about in America. Loud trucks racing through neighborhoods. Violent video games. Shoveling six inches of “global warming.”

But at least, for now, there is one less annoyance to assault regular Americans in their own living rooms.

Yes, Congress does act, occasionally. Christmas did come early this year — and with it blessed peace.