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Decibel Dilemma

June 15, 2008 8:50 PM

Some TV commercials may be a blast, but U.S. Rep. Anna G. Eshoo doesn’t want them to be loud as well. The California Democrat is proposing the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act, or CALM, to require the FCC to create rules ordering TV spots to air at the same volume as the programs they accompany.

An aide said the legislation developed from Rep. Eshoo’s own anger at the high volume of TV ads, and not from constituent complaints.

“Most Americans are not overjoyed to watch television commercials, but they are willing to tolerate them to sustain free over-the-air television. What annoys all of us is the sudden increase of volume when commercials are aired,” she said. “A TV program has a mix of audio levels. There are loud and soft parts. Nuance is used to build the dramatic effect. Most advertisers don’t want nuance. They want to grab our attention, and to do this, they record every part of it as loud as possible.”

—Ira Teinowitz

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