There is much talk today about a new law called the CALM Act – or the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act. There are a few media stories about it, including the Los Angeles Times, NPR and CNN, and a press rerelease from Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA). Below are a few answers to questions you may have about CALM.
What is CALM?
The CALM Act requires cable operators, satellite providers, telco TV providers and broadcasters to insure that the volume of all digital TV ads is not recognizably louder than the regular programming.
Congress passed the CALM Act on December 15, 2010, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted the rules to implement the law on December 13, 2011. The rules went into effect on December 13, 2012.
After today, will people hear abnormally loud commercials anymore?
Cable companies work hard every day to provide a great experience for our customers. Loud commercials can be frustrating and disrupt the TV experience, so these rules will help solve that problem.
How will this work technically?
Developing a solution sounds easy but is quite complex when you consider the many steps, starting with the creation of the commercials and ending at viewing on TV in the home. An industry group, the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC), created standards known as the A/85 Recommended Practice (ATSC A/85 RP) which is a “set of methods to measure and control the audio loudness of digital programming, including commercials,” according to the FCC.
Who is responsible for compliance?
Both program networks and cable operators have a role to play in ensuring that ads are not loud. Networks certify to their distributors that the embedded ads in their network programming meet the ATSC A/85 RP. Cable operators must assure that their locally inserted ads also meet the same technical criteria.
What has cable done to prepare?
For several years, our industry has worked on solutions to a problem that seems so simple to fix, but is, in fact, very complex. NCTA has worked with our operator and programmer members to ensure awareness of and compliance with the CALM Act rules by the December 13, 2012 deadline. Programmers have been working diligently to implement the ATSC A/85 RP by purchasing and installing new equipment.
How did this all come to fruition?
Since there is no simple switch to flip that equalizes the volume, it took planning, resources, and work over the past year to make it happen. All members of the TV ecosystem – advertisers, cable programmers, pay-tv providers (including satellite and telcos), broadcast networks, and local broadcast stations – must do their part to make this work effectively.