Congress Considers Regulating Noisy Ads

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Congress could be days away from turning down the volume on blaring TV ads.

The Commercial Advertising Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act would ban TV ads that have a louder volume than the shows they interrupt, The Wall Street Journal said.

Consumers have been complaining for decades about the volume on some ads.

"If I'd saved 50 million children from some malady, people would not have the interest that they have in this," Rep. Anna Eshoo (D – Cal) told The Wall Street Journal.

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In 1984, U.S. regulators declined to regulate noisy advertising, saying that it was impossible to quantify volume. That left advertisers free to try to out-blare each other.

Technically, no ad is currently louder than the loudest moment in the show it interrupts. The problem is that loudest moment may only be a split second long – a gunshot, or a car crash – with the rest of the show at a much lower volume.

As a result, advertisers can pitch their ad at a much higher volume than the vast majority of the show.

"It's not the engineers' fault, it's the physics' fault," David Wood, an audio expert who chairs a working group on the issue at the U.N.'s International Telecommunications Union, told The Wall Street Journal.
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