CALM Act pronounced doomed to fail


An online consumer technology site has taken a look at the CALM Act, passed to widespread acclamation with bipartisan support at the end of 2010 with the intent of making it illegal to broadcast ultra-loud commercials on TV. The result of this look is the opinion that it will never work.

According to a reported at, we cannot expect the CALM Act to bring an end to being annoyed by grotesquely loud commercials.

The first part of the problem is tied to the fact that the upper reaches of allowable decibel levels have to accommodate the dramatic conclusion of detective shows and other types of programs that may involve automobile crashes, exulting crowds, and other noisy events.

The second part of the problem is one of contrast. The simple fact is that most television programming is not conducted at the same volume level as is a pitched gun battle or artillery duel.

So when Oprah, or Conan, or Bill O’Reilly, or Charlie Sheen (in syndication for the time being) is talking, it is generally at a conversational level.

Enter the annoying commercial – it is more than willing to make its pitch at the pitched battle level. Hence, it becomes a matter of contrast, and the problem of annoyingly loud commercials continues, CALM Act or no.
Here’s how described the CALM Act and its probable effect: “It requires the FCC to crack down on places like Ed’s Used Jalopy Lot. The problem: Most blaring commercials never actually exceed the recommended volume limit. They just sound loud compared with a TV show, where the volume of spoken dialog tends to stay well below the upper limit and only the occasional burst of, say, gunfire spikes near the max level. The majority of ads don’t pass that gunfire barrier; they simply stick close to it for their entire torturous 30- second duration.”

So, according to, if you’re falling asleep toward the end of Conan’s show, there is still every possibility that a jangly commercial will blast out of your television set and restore you to full consciousness.