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]