Cable Industry Says It Shouldn't Have To Adjust Volume On Ads Because C-SPAN Doesn't Have To

On December 13, a new piece of legislation intended to prevent obnoxiously loud TV advertising from ruining your nap will take effect. But the cable industry is making a last-minute move to get an exemption for “promotional” ads (aren’t all ads supposed to be promotional?). Their reasoning? They just want the same leeway given to that ad-bloated TV powerhouse C-SPAN.

Per the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act (CALM) Act, all ads are required to be at the same volume as the shows they interrupt. But in a petition to the FCC, the National Cable & Telecommunications Assn., says that broadcasters should be allowed to air their own promo spots at current, irritatingly loud volumes.

But the NCTA feels that there is a big difference between paid advertising and in-house promos for upcoming shows and the like; a distinction not made in the CALM Act.

“The commission mistakenly conflates commercial advertisements and promos, defining promos as ‘commercial advertisements promoting television programming,'” reads the petition. “In fact, promos are distinct from commercial advertisements. Generally, commercial advertisements are material transmitted in exchange for some type of payment or remuneration, while promos are not.”

That’s all well and good, but do you think the viewer at home gives a good gosh dang as they scramble for the Mute button on the remote?

“The distinction between promotional materials and other forms of advertising would not be readily apparent to a consumer and thus should not be treated differently in the context of the commission’s rules,” responded the bill’s author, California Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo. “The plain language of the law does not provide a blanket exemption from promotional advertisements, nor did legislative debate on this subject infer such an exemption.”

The NCTA’s Hail Mary pass of an argument is that, since public broadcasters like PBS stations and C-SPAN are exempt from the volume restrictions, then broadcasters’ promos should be given an exemption.

“The FCC has already exempted public broadcasting stations that carry promotional announcements that are not considered to be commercials,” a rep for the industry group tells the L.A. Times’ David Lazarus. “We are simply asking the FCC to find that promos on other networks, like C-SPAN, should receive the same treatment.”

Of course, everything the NCTA now says contradicts the industry’s long-held stance that its ads are only perceived to be louder than the shows during which they air.

We propose that cable broadcasters be allowed to get the same exemption as C-SPAN — if they stop taking any paid advertisements. Deal?

Cable industry needs to stop its noise over law on loud TV ads [LA Times]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Geekybiker says:

    They can do whatever they want. I don’t watch ads anymore. <3 my DVR.

    • Ed says:

      I don’t watch “TV” anymore and this is one of the reasons. I cut the cable and am going streaming. I’ve only been doing it 2 weeks, but so far, *LOVE* it, and I’ve not noticed the ads any louder.Both Hulu+ and Crackle have ads, and they are short, unobnoxious and at the same level as the shows I am watching.

  2. TheUncleBob says:

    Yay for government restrictions on certain types of speech.

    • MutantMonkey says:

      So when that car sales ad obnoxiously blasts at a volume well above the show you were just watching, do you pump your arms and yell, “that’s freedom at work baby!”

      • TheUncleBob says:

        No, I hit the Fast Forward button on the DVR.

        That’s freedom at work, baby. They have a right to say their message, I have a right not to listen.

        • MutantMonkey says:

          Screw that. They are using a tax payer funded infrastructure therefore they can deal with some oversight, particularly under these benign terms. And if your argument is laying on the back of fairness, have the volume of all content following programs to be normalized regardless of channel.

          • TheUncleBob says:

            And that would be acceptable. But that’s not what this bill is doing. It’s picking and choosing what types of content can be at the higher volume levels. Which means the government is making the law restricting the speech based on the content.

            • Chuft-Captain says:

              Their speech is not being restricted in any way, shape or form. This is no different from the cops telling (the hypothetical) you you and your companions need to speak at a reasonable volume or be charged with creating a disturbance when you all sit around chatting on the porch late at night. They’re not telling you what you can or can;t say, just that you can’t scream it at the top of your lungs.

              • TheUncleBob says:

                Except that the cops are letting their buddies on the porch next door yell as loud as they want…

                • Kuri says:

                  Have you ever seen an incident where that has happened? If that happens you call a different officer.

                  • TheUncleBob says:

                    Except, in this case, the “officer” is the FCC and they’re writing the law so that they get to pick and choose who is legally allowed to violate the ordinance that everyone else has to comply with. Calling a different officer won’t help.

                    • daemonaquila says:

                      Analogy doesn’t work. TV shows aren’t blasting at high volume. They’re the baseline, like the ambient neighborhood sound, and the viewer can set their volume as high or low as they want. The ads are the hecklers, standing on the porch and screaming as loud as they can to disturb the area and MAKE people look. There is no “buddy on the porch” – content is either programming (no problem) or ads. The FCC isn’t playing favorites. Red herring.

                    • TheUncleBob says:

                      The FCC is allowing an exemption for one group of stations. How is that anything but playing favorites?

            • ChicagoJerry says:

              Don’t forget TheUncleBob, it was the Citizens of these United States that compelled OUR government to create the law that prevents these companies from blasting our ears and waking up our kids. Don’t forget that the same Citizens PAY for TV and expect not to be blown away. If we go by your reasoning then it would be okay for broadcasters to play double volume ads that showed huge penises swinging around on TV. If you didn’t like it then you could turn the channel right? Free speech and all right? Sorry, your argument doesn’t make sense. It is perfectly okay to control volume and exempt public broadcasters. It has zero to do with free speech.

              • TheUncleBob says:

                A) Our Citizens shouldn’t be allowed to demand our government create laws that trample on the rights of others.

                B) By your analogy, this law allows one group of stations to air commercials at double volume featuring giant penises, while forbidding it on all other channels. That has 100% to do with Free Speech.

          • Bobscte says:

            Would you please define “tax payer funded infrastructure?”

        • Bor&Mitch says:

          That’s well and good when you’re actively watching. Ever fall asleep while watching TV, only to be yanked awake by an obnoxious promo? Or have the TV on as background noise but have to scramble to find the remote when the volume suddenly increases? Or you’re in a room with loud AC so you already have the TV cranked up a bit. But here comes the commercial *BAM! ..WATCH THIS NEW SHOW! ORDER THIS NIC-NAC NOW NOW NOW!*.

          • TheUncleBob says:

            No, never.

            But I don’t live and die by the TV either.

            • PSUSkier says:

              Wow, someone has a serious holier-than-thou syndrome going on. In any event, neither do I, but it’s nice not to have to deal with this kind of thing when I do watch television.

              Also, your argument that they’re restricting content/speech through this is incomprehensibly wrong. The content is still there & unchanged. They just can’t blare it at 120db at will. It’d be like standing on the corner of a neighborhood street and yelling whatever you want through a bull horn. The cops would have every right to roll up on you and tell you to knock it off. Just because you can say (almost) anything you want doesn’t mean you can do it any way you please.

              • TheUncleBob says:

                Again, the restriction comes in where they allow one group to do it without restrictions while making it illegal for another. It’s really simple and I just don’t understand what y’all find so hard to understand about it.

                • ChicagoJerry says:

                  I think you would have a point if the law allowed ABC to have an exemption but not NBC. We are talking about public broadcasters here. You don’t send firemen to prison for breaking and entering do you?

                  • TheUncleBob says:

                    That’s got to be the worst analogy yet.

                    And yes, if a fireman commits B&E, then yes, he should go to jail just the same. Likewise, if my house is on fire and a thief or a rapist rushes in and saves my life, then I would owe him my gratitude.

          • Cerne says:

            Sometimes I have done those things. I’ve also occasionally stubbed my toe. What I’ve never done is assumed that the government should fix those issues for me.

        • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

          TiVo had a button to skip ads until the lawsuits made them uninstall the feature from the millions of users if I remember correctly. So we have freedom of speech but not freedom to skip?

          The fact that 1.5hr movies (after being hacked up, sped up and censored for TV) take 2hrs or even 3hrs with all the commercials and PROMOS annoys me. I have disconnected all our TVs. Haven’t missed it. Why the F*&K do they blare the same ads repeatedly for DirectTV or cable when you are a paying customer of said service?

          Limit broadcasters to 5 minutes of ads or promos per hour. Should do the trick.

    • wombats lives in [redacted] says:

      Yay for incompetence. This isn’t telling anyone to not speak, it’s saying quiet down we don’t need you blasting your voice.

      • Snapdragon says:

        Yes. This. No one’s restricting what can be said. No need to get one’s panties in a wad.

        That said, I’m not sure why there are any exceptions. Is there really any sort of cost for implementation?

        • exconsumer says:

          As an audio engineer – None at all! In fact, it would be easier. Making audio that loud requires a bit of doing: Multiband compression and limiting, to make absolutely certain every last frequency is at full tilt. That can take time. Not a lot, but it’s still something you’ve got to pay someone to do. With a softer standard, you’d be able to just let the audio be.

        • MutantMonkey says:

          No, there isn’t. There are built in mechanisms that handle this very issue with ease and they have been around for more than 10 years. All they have to do is turn on a limiter, either hardware or software depending on the backbone of their system and then set the boundaries. For the more archaic installations, they just have to record into the system the media and set the level at a predetermined number.

          This issue is not about difficulty, this issue is about advertising breakthrough and this volume bullshit is part of the backroom negotiations that take place.

      • TheUncleBob says:

        This is the comment I was hoping for.

        The problem here isn’t that they’re making a law regarding the level of volume. The problem is in the exemption. Saying “Speech X” is okay in this case but “Speech Y” is not is a CLEAR violation of the First Amendment.

        • wombats lives in [redacted] says:

          You were hoping that I would point out that you can’t comprehend volume? You’re a silly man.

          • TheUncleBob says:

            Wow. Really?

            The government says “Speech X” is okay at volumes above the rest of the programming but “Speech Y” is not okay.

            It’s not an issue of volume, it’s an issue of the exemption.

            Pretend that the hypothetical sitting President were to sign into law a bill that says the guy running against him in November cannot run television ads that are above 1 Decibel. Would that be okay, as we’re only talking about the volume of the speech?

            • wombats lives in [redacted] says:

              lol, really? The government in this case enacted the law based on public opinion in favor of it. Maybe my recollection is off, but I don’t recall cspan or pbs blasting crap during breaks.

              I hope you don’t actually think you’re imaginary scenario is likely and actually deserves an answer with a straight face.

              • TheUncleBob says:

                lol, really? I like a government that enacts laws based on individual rights and not based on mob rule.

                And you’re right – my imaginary scenario is unlikely, but is exaggerated to a point to help you better understand what’s wrong with this bill.

                Obviously, you’re blinded because you agree with what this bill is trying to accomplish, so you don’t care about what’s wrong with it. To help you understand, I’m re-framing the bill in such a way that (I assume) you would be opposed to it. Your argument is that speech isn’t being restricted – just the volume. In this imaginary scenario, again, speech isn’t being restricted – just the volume. So it’s okay, right?

                • Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

                  I think I have a right to not be assaulted by stereo-frying levels of volume if I’m too slow on the ‘mute’ or ’30-second-skip’ buttons.

                  Also, free speech is not, and has never been, absolute. You can’t yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theater if there is no fire. You can’t say ‘fuck’ on public airwaves. And, while you’re free to say whatever you want, you are NOT free to stand next to me and scream at me through a megaphone. One is expressing your right to free speech, the other is assault.

                  • TheUncleBob says:

                    You do have that right – by not inviting the broadcasters into your home.

                    And “Stereo Frying levels of volume”? Citation, please.

                    And we’ve had the entire “Fire” debate below. It’s not illegal.

            • exconsumer says:

              Not applicable. The standards only ask that the commercial MATCH the other broadcasted content. The broadcaster can have the commercial as loud as they’d like. Their only worry is that another promo, on another channel (who don’t make a habit of blasting those promos) might be relatively louder than the content they just broadcast. That is not a chilling effect or a freedom of speech crisis.

              There exist no circumstances under the present requirements that would create a situation where the content of someone’s otherwise legal speech would be restricted.

              ‘Please stop blasting your commercials’ =/= Constitutional crisis

              • TheUncleBob says:

                “”The FCC has already exempted public broadcasting stations that carry promotional announcements that are not considered to be commercials.”

                • Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

                  Be honest: You just don’t like public broadcasting.

                  • TheUncleBob says:

                    lol. How do you even remotely get that?

                    • Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

                      From the fact that you don’t see a difference between “Hey, here’s a show that’s going to be on later that you might want to see” broadcast at a reasonable volume and “Hey, asshole, watch this show so we can try to sell you a bunch of useless shit that you don’t want through ads before, during and after the content” at Disaster Area-esque levels of amplification.

                      If you’re walking down the street and someone is walking around with a sandwich board advertising a soup kitchen, and someone else is hitting passers-by over the head with a sign describing a strip club, guess where the correction needs to be made.

                    • TheUncleBob says:

                      Apparently, the soup-kitchen folks are whacking folks upside the head as well, or else they wouldn’t need an exemption, n’est-ce pas?

                      Translation: Why would public broadcasting need a special exemption allowing them to run their promos at a louder level if they’re not doing it and have no intentions of doing it? Why not just require them to run their promos at the same levels as the rest of their programming as well?

                    • wombats lives in [redacted] says:

                      There isn’t actually an exemption.

                    • TheUncleBob says:

                      *IF* that is the case, then the text of the lead article is incorrect.

            • daemonaquila says:

              Except, you’re indulging in another false argument. The law here prevents one type of speech from drowning another out, mandating an EQUAL playing field. That’s 180 degrees opposite to your example, where one type of speech is mandated to be at a DIFFERENT volume. Yeah… desegregation is JUST like Jim Crow laws. LOL.

        • exconsumer says:

          No, the First Amendment applies primarily to content. Just like noise violations aren’t protected, neither should overloud commercials.

          • TheUncleBob says:

            Correct – and due to the exemption, this law ONLY applies to commercials based on the content. Which is the issue.

            • wombats lives in [redacted] says:

              The issue is we fed you and now you’re going to come out from under your bridge.

            • Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

              For-profit vs non-profit. There’s a lot of precedent for making the distinction.

              • TheUncleBob says:

                Yup. Sad, but true.
                Which is why I believe the Federal Do Not Call List, as is, is unconstitutional.

                I would 100% be in favor of a list that prohibits *all* non-solicited calls.

                A list that selectively prohibits calls based on the content while allowing additional unsolicited calls with “approved” content seems to be a clear violation of the first amendment as well.

                I know that was making its way through the court system in a couple of different cases, but am unsure if it’s ever been decided on.

                • Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

                  If you think that some asshole on the phone trying to sell you magazine subscriptions and someone taking a public opinion survey are the same thing… Plus, a rule prohibiting all non-solicited calls would prevent someone from calling you to tell you a loved one is in the hospital, from public officials calling you to warn you of a public emergency, even from someone down the street calling you to tell you your house is on fire. After all, you didn’t *ask* any of them to make those calls, did you? Or give them permission?

                  No, that’s ridiculous. You’d want to get all those calls. So, your absolutist position on the issue is idiotic. It then becomes a question of degrees. Personally, I don’t mind getting public opinion survey calls.

                  Anyway, the solution to your problem is obvious. Unplug your phone. Then you’re 100% guaranteed to not get a call you didn’t specifically ask for.

                  • TheUncleBob says:

                    I think any reasonable individual would understand the difference between “unsolicited phone calls” in the context I was using it vs. what you expanded it to be (minus the public opinion surveys – don’t want those phone calls either).

                    However, let’s expand your logic to the topic at hand. Unplug your TV. Then you’re 100% guaranteed not to hear commercials at speaker-frying levels.

                    • Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

                      That’s quite true. But then you wouldn’t be faced with the gut-wrenching angst of facing a world where the government doesn’t fix something that isn’t broken, so I think we’re even.

                    • TheUncleBob says:

                      By this, I can only assume that you mean the original bill without the public broadcasting exemption wasn’t broken to begin with, so there was no reason to “fix” it with the exemption in the first place?

              • TheUncleBob says:

                So, you’re saying that the “Promotional Announcements” on PBS are 100% not-for-profit.

                • Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

                  Um. Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m saying:

                  “The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) is a non-profit American public broadcasting television network with 354 member TV stations in the United States which hold collective ownership.”

                  Versus, for example:

                  “CBS Broadcasting Inc. (CBS) is a major US commercial broadcasting television network, which started as a radio network, and continues to operate a radio network and a portfolio of large market television and radio stations.”

                  There is a difference between a non-profit entity looking to cover costs and a commercial enterprise which, by definition, exists to turn a profit. Split hairs if you want, but that’s the situation.

                  • TheUncleBob says:

                    So, you’re okay with an announcement made at “stereo busting levels” of “PROMOTIONAL CONSIDERATION PAID FOR BY TOYOTA. COME BUY TOYOTA CARS! ohandviewerslikeyou…” because the public station themselves isn’t for profit?

                    • Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

                      No, I wouldn’t be OK with that. However, that’s a problem that doesn’t exist. If it did, I’m sure there wouldn’t be that exemption.

                      You’re seeing things in black and white. The world is grey. Technically speaking, according to the exact wording and a strict interpretation of the First Amendment, the government cannot punish you for speaking. Does that mean that I can walk next to you and scream in your ear, without threat of government sanction? Should it? The Second Amendment says that you (arguably) have a right to carry a firearm (Arms, technically). But how do you define “Arms”? Does it mean all conceivable firearms created or yet-to-come? Or does it mean “Arms” as defined by the technology of the day in which the amendment was ratified? The Fifth Amendment says that a person “shall [not] be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself”, but what does that mean, exactly? Does it mean my likeness may not be used to identify me by a witness to the crime? Does it mean that the police may not take my fingerprints without my permission?

                      My point is, the constitution has been interpreted in various ways over the last couple of hundred years. Laws have been passed clarifying ambiguous phrasing, and courts have decided cases that have gone on to be precedent for following decisions. It’s not as simple as ‘read the constitution rabble rabble’. People interpret things differently based on their experiences.

                      TL;DR: You don’t have a monopoly on interpreting the US Constitution. If you don’t like something about how it’s been interpreted, write your Congressman. If enough people agree with you, then it’ll get changed. If not, tough shit.

                    • TheUncleBob says:

                      In reply to your first statement (as the rest is opinions and nonsense, like screaming in someone’s ear – which I will indulge myself and respond to at the bottom) – If the problem doesn’t exist, then there’s no need to make a special exemption for it. Period. Make the law fair for everyone and stop carving out special privileges for special people.

                      As per yelling in someone’s ear – again, that’s not a speech issue. To make it a speech issue, you’d have to pass a law that says it’s illegal to yell into someone’s ear unless you’re yelling, say, political or not-for-profit speech. Like, if I were to walk up to you and yell “DONATE TO MY FOOD BANK” into your ear.

                      This bill is specifically doing that. It says “This is illegal unless the speech is about subject X.” And therein lies the problem.

            • ChicagoJerry says:

              Again, firemen to not get noise violations when blaring and blasting down the streets at 1am on their way to a fire. Sometimes I wish they would but they are exempt from the noise ordinance so you see, there plenty of examples of situations where laws apply to one group but not to another.

              • TheUncleBob says:

                When a television station runs a commercial where the volume of the commercial can mean the difference between life and death, then we can give them an exemption.

    • eldergias says:

      R – So we should be able to yell fire in a crowded theater?
      A- No, see the spirit and point of the law is that “harmful” speech is banned.
      R- Ah, then in that case, these ads should be banned because they are so loud that they physically cause me pain due to their excessive sustained decibel level?

      What would be your answer to that?

      • TheUncleBob says:

        Learn to use the volume control on your TV? There’s even remotes now, so you can sit on your couch and change the volume.

        • TheUncleBob says:

          And, by the way, it’s not illegal to yell fire in a crowded theater. As long as you have the consent of the business owner/operator (just like you’d ideally need to yell in any establishment) and no direct harm is caused by your speech (just like any thing you’d say), there is nothing illegal about it.

          • eldergias says:

            That is completely false.

            • TheUncleBob says:

              And yet, it’s not.

              Tell you what, I’ll get with my local theater (cinema) owner, pack the theater with 100 friends, including a few police officers. I’ll make sure everyone knows there isn’t a fire, then yell “Fire!” and record it. And when nothing happens, you can cut me a check to reimburse me for the expense of renting out the theater and a bonus for my time.

              • eldergias says:

                Firstly, I did not establish what country you are from. If you are in the United States you are wrong, if you are in some other country, then I have no idea what your laws are.

                If you are in the United States then…

                Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47 (1919) – Established “clear and present danger” test to free speech. Clear and present danger is a doctrine adopted by the Supreme Court of the United States to determine under what circumstances limits can be placed on First Amendment freedoms of speech, press or assembly. This case was limited by the Brandenburg case.

                Brandenburg v. Ohio 395 U.S. 444 (1969) – The Court held that government cannot punish inflammatory speech unless that speech is directed to inciting, and is likely to incite, imminent lawless action.

                Inciting, or possibly inciting, a riot (by an action such as “yelling fire in a crowded theater” when there is no fire) is a “lawless action”

                If you are from the United States, would you care to cite to some case law or relevant statutes to back up your claim?

                • TheUncleBob says:

                  From the US and your citations back up my claim perfectly.

                  The act of yelling “Fire!” is not illegal.

                  If you do so with the intent of “inciting a riot” or such, then it becomes illegal. But, again, it’s not the message itself that is illegal – you could exchange “Fire!” with virtually anything that could cause the crowd to become violent, you risk being charged with applicable crimes for inciting a riot. The word “Fire!” itself is not illegal to yell. Period. It is the intent – and result – of the message.

                  • eldergias says:

                    Great, you agree with me! There are ton’s of things you can yell that can be illegal. “Fire” is one of those things because it is likely to cause a riot. The word “fire” itself is not illegal, nor are the words “I” “have” “a” or “gun”. But depending on when, where, how, and in what context you use those words, they can be illegal in your usage (Yelling “fire” or “I have a gun” in a crowded theater when there is no fire, being one such illegal instance, not because of the word itself, but because of the actual or potential harm from such yelling.)

                    Glad we can agree.

                    • TheUncleBob says:

                      So – we agree, simply yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater is not illegal. Good.

                    • eldergias says:

                      No, I still need to disagree with that. As per the cases I cited, an action such as yelling “Fire” that is likely to incite a riot IS illegal.

                      If you would like to refute that, please quote or direct me to some case law or statute that says otherwise.

                      The word “fire” is not illegal. But some usages of it are (such as falsely yelling it in a crowded theater.

                      The Schenck case specifically states: “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic. […] The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.”

                      That quote proves you wrong, unless you can back up your case with some proof that refutes that statement of the court.

                    • TheUncleBob says:

                      Your citations revolve around the fact that it requires – at the very least – an intention to cause a riot (at most, it actually causes a riot without even intending to).

                      Thus, again, it’s not the act of yelling “Fire!” that is illegal.

                      Again, I’m willing to arrange a yelling of “Fire!” in a crowded theater where nothing happens, but you must be willing to cover the costs incurred in the process.

                    • eldergias says:

                      If what you are saying is: “The act of yelling “fire” is not illegal, it is the act of yelling “fire” in a circumstance where a) there is no fire and b) the act of such yelling is likely to result in a riot, is illegal.” Then I agree with you. You could yell fire in the middle of the desert, but no one is there to hear you, thus there is no risk of riot, so it is not illegal. Similarly, if you rented out a theater and filled it with people that knew you were going to yell fire and that there was no fire, then there would be no risk of a riot because no one believed what you were yelling. The key is the “circumstance” in which you yell because of the threat of “lawless action”.

                      If that is what you are saying, then we are in agreement.

                      If the above is not what you are saying, then try getting a ticket to a blockbuster movie on a Friday night with a packed crowd, yell “Fire” in the middle of the movie, and see what the consequences are.

                    • TheUncleBob says:

                      Yes – that is exactly what I’ve been saying. The speech itself is not illegal. It’s the results of that speech that you’re held liable for. Which is the entire point.

                    • ChicagoJerry says:

                      The real question is should I be able to say hello to my son Jack when I’m in the airport.

              • wombats lives in [redacted] says:

                • TheUncleBob says:

                  wombats, just because you have failed – repeatedly – at making the case for your viewpoint doesn’t mean you have to resort to name calling and other childish tactics.

        • guaporico says:

          Good job unclebob at trolling on this article, I give 7/10. I don’t think I’ve seen someone so trigger happy at commenting as now.

    • who? says:

      Sorry, yelling louder isn’t a new form of speech, it’s just saying the same thing louder.

    • longfeltwant says:

      Agreed. Yay!

    • dolemite says:

      Really? So they should be allowed to tune TV shows to 50% volume then crank it up to 100% so commercials blow out my speakers? Because that’s what is happening.

      • TheUncleBob says:

        I assume you have a link to a reliable news report where someone’s speakers were blown out because the commercial was too loud while the TV show was too soft?

        • Sian says:

          Yeah cause that’s newsworthy right there.

          *sees no news stories about people dislocating their toes, concludes the injury is impossible*

        • Coleoptera Girl says:

          Just because it doesn’t happen or people don’t take notice doesn’t mean it isn’t possible. I doubt that broadcasters would do such a thing (simply because they have to retain customers) but without regulations, they are allowed to. That doesn’t mean the regulations are justified.

          What really should be happening is that a cable company should reduce the difference in volume between programming and commercials and then should advertise the hell out of it.

          • TheUncleBob says:

            The thing is, I actually have nothing against this bill and what it is trying to accomplish – I just disagree with the exemption.

    • dragonfire81 says:

      Commercials are communication between private corporations and private citizens and thus do not fall under the First Amendment, which only governs communication between private citizens and the GOVERNMENT.

      • TheUncleBob says:

        However, the First Amendment CLEARLY defines the fact that the GOVERNMENT cannot make any law restricting speech.

        In this case, the FCC is making a law saying “Speech X” is okay at this volume, but “Speech Y” is not.

        That is a clear violation of the First Amendment.

        • wombats lives in [redacted] says:

          Please go yelling around town and tell me how that works out for you.

        • Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

          Your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose. Similarly, their right(?) to advertise goods at obscene volumes ends at my eardrums.

          And if public broadcasting starts to exhibit this behavior with their promos, then I’m sure the rules will be amended to include them as well.

          • TheUncleBob says:

            The rules were amended to specifically exclude them. Which is the issue.

            There never should have been a reason to exclude them if they weren’t exhibiting the behavior and had no plans to in the future.

            If a law passed that said “You cannot sell beer on Sundays.” and individuals representing the interest of churches came forth and pushed for an exemption that allowed churches to sell beer on Sundays pushing the idea that “Well, they’re churches! They don’t sell beer!”, we’d all laugh at the entire concept.

            Then I’d totally start the First Church of St. Budweiser.

        • Black Bellamy says:

          I’m not sure where you get your understanding of the First Amendment, but hundreds of years of jurisprudence plainly shows that the government CAN make a law restricting speech. Since your position is that CLEARLY the government can’t make ANY laws restricting speech, then you’re either ignorant or a troll.

          • TheUncleBob says:

            Can you cite case law where government has successfully restricted speech based sorely on the speech with no outlying reasons?

            This goes directly back to the “Fire” in a crowded theater discussion above. It’s not the speech that’s illegal.

            • Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

              Walking around naked in your own house is fine. Walking around naked at a playground will get you on the sex offender list.

              It’s not the walking around naked that’s illegal.

              (psst: he’s talking about ‘context’).

            • Tim says:

              Brandenburg v. Ohio (speech directed to incite limitless lawless action), Virginia v. Black (cross-burning with an attempt to intimidate), Watts v. United States (threatening the president), Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc. (false statements of fact), Miller v. California (obscenity) …

              • TheUncleBob says:

                None of those cases were specifically about the speech itself. As Evil Otto nicely point out – context.

    • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

      I non-sarcastically agree. There’s about 230 years of case law demonstrating that commerical, for-profit “speech” is barely protected and can be heavily, heavily restricted.

    • Tim says:

      Time, place and manner restrictions have long been allowed: Content is what cannot be regulated.

    • Mr. Bill says:

      The government is not stopping any speech only stopping them from SHOUTING IN MY FREAKING EAR!

  3. Red Cat Linux says:

    If this includes those stupid in-show promos that some channels (I’m looking at YOU, TNT!) like to hog the bottom quarter of the screen with while a different show is currently in progress many of which have sound effects, many of them louder than the current show’s volume, then I <3 this law.

    • StarKillerX says:

      Oh I HATE that crap, even without sound I mean let’s get real I didn’t get a big screen set for 1/3 to 1/2 of it can be filled up with advertising and various other crap (sure news tickers on news channels, and stock tickers on financial channels, make sense, anything else needs to DIAF!)

      • who? says:

        Totally agree.

        Even worse, I was in a hotel all last week. The TV was small by modern TV standards (but still bigger than what would have been normal 10 years ago). There was so much extraneous crap on the screen that what I was actually trying to see was unwatchably tiny.

        I ended up reading a book.

    • Banished to the Corner says:

      I HATE those banners with a passion. Especially since I use cc on many programs that have loud “background” music and quieter vocals. The cc gets blocked by the promo ads at the bottom of the screen. If I move my cc location, it usually blocks too much of the picture.

      • Red Cat Linux says:

        I, too, used the cc on some shows to not wake hubby. And the stupid promos would cover the captions. Even when I wasn’t using cc, the audio on those things would drown out the actual show dialog.

        I think of it as Anti-tizing.

    • longfeltwant says:

      …and you still tune into TNT? Your pain threshold is apparently a lot higher than mine.

      • Red Cat Linux says:

        I am a Law and Order junkie. I dealt with it for years. However, I went cold turkey…
        I have no cable at all now, being an OTA HD antenna fan now.

        • longfeltwant says:

          Me too. I love Law and Order. My favorite is SVU, but I like most of the different shows. If you have Netflix, you will discover a new love, being able to watch every episode of every season of every show, one after another, with no commercials, pausing any time you want to.

  4. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    Just one more thing I won’t miss when I cancel the TV portion of my Comcast bill on Friday.

  5. StarKillerX says:

    I agree with the broadcasters that it’s not righ that any channels are exempted from this law, but of course my solution would be to require ALL channels to follow the law for all non-program broadcasting, personally I don’t care if it’s an ad, a promo or a PSA.

    Although with that being said I’m with Geekybiker above in that I don’t watch ads, although it would be nice not to get blasted out of my seat if I’m a few seconds slowing hitting fast forward on my dvr.

    • George4478 says:

      Agreed. Why should anybody get an exemption for anything?

      I don’t really care why you’re interrupting the show with a super-loud promo/ad/announcement/whatever, it’s annoying.

      “Oh, it’s a promo for next week X-Factor, not a commercial for Cialis. That loud blast of annoying sound is totally OK with me now.”

      • StarKillerX says:

        The problem with laws like this, are the same problem we have with so many other laws on the books, in the rare instance politicians actually have a good idea, and decide to do something for the American public all their buddies rush in to add exemption after exemption.

        For example, the Do no call list is a great idea, but why should politicians get to ignore it and contact people who have asked not to be called?

        • George4478 says:

          I agree with you there too. I’m on the DNC list because I don’t want anyone to cold-call me, not because I only want to hear from surveys, charities, and politicians.

  6. RandomLetters says:

    This reminds me of a gag the Monty Python gang wanted to pull on the British TV audience. They wanted to slowly decrease the volume of the show so that people would keep turning it up as the program progressed. Then right at the end they wanted to take it back to normal volume on their end and do a big song number. Not surprisingly the BBC didn’t think that was a good idea.

  7. richcreamerybutter says:

    Has anyone tried a volume limiter like this one?

    I don’t doubt that after December 13, more commercials will just be mixed to emphasize the “bright” frequencies to compensate. I think a lot of the late night low-production budget ads already do this.

  8. longfeltwant says:

    “Big Government Nanny State Interferes With Free Market For Television Advertisements”

    And that is why big government, nanny states, and unfree markets are all good things.

  9. dush says:

    Why would they exempt anyone? Stop giving CSPAN and PBS preferential treatment.

  10. Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

    Just keep the damn commercial volume down, I don’t care what content you’re trying to advertise, if I’m not interested, no amount of volume will change my mind.

  11. Velvet Jones says:

    This is one instance where FIOS really annoys me. They drop in a ton of commercials, and they’re about 10db higher volume than the current program. On a small TV it is one thing, when it is in your 8 speaker home theater it is enough to hurt your ear drums.

  12. SoCalGNX says:

    Can we get Hulu into this mix too? I love being blasted with Crest White Strips when listening with headphones.

  13. chatterboxwriter says:

    This seems like a silly problem, but I am VERY easily startled. I clearly remember an Optimum Online ad that used to scare the crap out of me every time it aired (it was when I lived in NYC, so it was aired in 2005). It was SO much louder than the preceding TV show.

  14. hjc628 says:

    I think what they should do is make all channels on the same volume spectrum(?). Its a pain in the neck when you watch one show at a ‘normal’ volume, and then switch to another channel and the same volume you have your TV turned to is now either blasting or too quite.

  15. Press1forDialTone says:

    Do they even slightly get it that if you are offended by a commercial
    like, maybe, the LOUDNESS of it, that it will put you off from even
    considering the product. Idiocracy comes like a meteor into the ad

  16. Kestris says:

    When we aren’t DVRing a show, we tend to mute the commercials simply because they are so damned loud and annoying.

  17. atomix says:

    Chris, if you’re going to use that idiom, you need to spell both pronunciations phonetically. “Po-tay-to, Po-tah-to”… Otherwise it’s insensitive to people who pronounce it incorrectly.

  18. Obtruder says:

    Meh, cable is a long dead memory in my household anyway.

    I never understood this practice regardless, when those ads came blasting out of my TV when I did have cable at 50% louder volume, I used that wonderous MUTE button, pretty much negating the point of the ad.

    Annoying the hell out of potential customers isn’t really a good way to generate business.

  19. Cerne says:

    CALM is just a horrible piece of legislation in general. If you need the government to control the volume of your TV you should probably be in some kind of institution. With padded walls and soft colours.

  20. Libertas1 says:

    Turn the stupidity off.

  21. july18 says:

    the ONLY thing those commericials accomplish is my thinking why is this channel so loud and i change the channel.

  22. daemonaquila says:

    Gee, I can’t possibly imagine why people are downloading content illegally or scragging ads via DVR rather than putting up with the network nonsense.

  23. luxosaucer13 says:

    There’s one thing I still haven’t got my mind fully wrapped around yet:

    We’re told by the media industry and cable/satellite providers that pay-tv is necessary to bring us the programming we want, hence the subscription fees and cable/satellite bills.

    If we are PAYING for tv, then WHY do we NEED commercials on those tv channels?


  24. consumerd says:

    Don’t watch much tv these days, bit-torrent seems to be filling my needs nicely. Watching sons of anarchy season 4 now annoying commercial-less.
    Tried hulu+ as a trial on my nintendo wii. my Wii was not impressed and had to be reset. Haven’t tried crackle yet. One good thing out of the great Wii reset of 2012, was homebrewing the Wii with “letterbomb” is quite easy and allowed the WiiMC (Wii Media Channel). doing that, that made doing bittorrent watching much, much easier.

  25. Mr Joshua says:

    Here in Brazil I download everything now, no ads. I had DirectTV for years but the obscene volume of the ads, both in the sound volume and the ratio of ads to content together with the lack of flexibility in choosing the channels and packages I WANT, led me to wear a pirates hat.

    Screw Cable TV !!

  26. Vegetius says:

    The obvious solution is to abolish publicly funded broadcasting entirely. But apparently that’s fascism, or something.