FCC issues latest on CALM Act

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FCCHere is the latest quarterly FCC report on the status of the CALM Act. P. Michele Ellison, Chief, Enforcement Bureau, sent the update to Rep. Anna Eshoo, Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Communications and Technology Committee on Energy and Commerce, who introduced the legislation that aims to keep TV spots at an audio level on par with programming:


“Dear Congresswoman Eshoo:

The Enforcement Bureau is pleased to provide you with an update regarding our

continued complaint tracking and enforcement of the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act. This final report for 2013 provides data for the last three months of the calendar year, as well as data since the effective date of the rules in December 2012.

There continues to be a general downward trend in complaints related to loud commercials since December 2012, as reflected in the graph below.

CALM1

Per your request, the chart below highlights complaints filed during the last three months of last calendar year, and also provides complaint totals by month since December 2012.

CALM2

The total number of complaints from October 1,2013 through December 31, 2013, is 1,312. Around 70% of these complaints (913) were referred to the Enforcement Bureau for analysis to determine if enforcement action was warranted. Overall, since the effective date of the rules on December 13, 2012, the Commission has received 20,776 complaints and has referred 14,527 to the Enforcement Bureau. The remaining complaints did not include sufficient

information to be actionable. With respect to incomplete complaints, the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau provides those consumers with specific information by letter on how to re-file.

The Enforcement Bureau continues to analyze the complaints to determine if there is a pattern or trend that may indicate non-compliance. As previously reported, identifying a pattern or trend requires a complex and multi-dimensional analysis of all of the variables represented by each complaint (e.g., the complainant’s MVPD or broadcast station, the programming involved,

the specific commercial, geographic factors, etc.). The Enforcement Bureau’s efforts in this area have been hampered throughout 2013 by incomplete or insufficiently specific data in the complaints. To improve the quality of data reported by consumers, the Bureaus identified and drafted changes to the complaint form last year that should increase completeness and specificity. Fiscal constraints have delayed implementation of the revised form, but we will push to release new forms as soon as funding is available.

Notwithstanding the challenges presented by the data, based on the information we have been able to derive from the referred complaints, the Bureau identified more than one potential trend or pattern and commenced investigations accordingly. To safeguard against compromising enforcement actions, we cannot discuss the specifics of investigations or identify targets, but we are reviewing relevant information to determine if the CALM Act or the Commission’s rules have been violated. The Bureau also continues its efforts to identify other potential targets.

In addition to the ongoing enforcement process, the Commission’s Media Bureau continues its work to ensure the rules stay current with the underlying ATSC A/85 Recommended Practice (RP), as required by the statute. As noted previously, on November 1, 2013, the Commission released an Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) to incorporate a 2013 Successor RP and sought comment on an appropriate implementation deadline. The comment period for the FNPRM ended on Friday, December 27, 2013, with reply comments filed on January 13, 2014.

I hope this information is helpful. The Enforcement Bureau remains dedicated to our responsibilities under the CALM Act, and will continue to track and analyze referred complaints accordingly. The Commission also will continue to provide information and assistance to consumers regarding the complaint filing process.”