Loud TV Commercials A Thing Of The Past Starting December 13

If it's too loud, turn it down. Then call the FCC.

A federal act that helps regulate the volume of television commercials goes into effect Thursday, Dececember 13, after it was signed into law December 13, 2011.

It's called the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act and there's a lot of technical jargon involved and the way the Federal Communications Commission measures and verifies how loud commercials are and can be.

Commercials are often so loud because the only real limit on programming volumes is the one set by stations so that the sound levels don't damage their equipment. That level, however, represents a peak sound meant to accommodate for when something like a gunshot or explosion goes off during a show. Advertising content creators routinely crank the sound of their ads to just shy of that peak level, so the entire commercial is playing at the equivalent of a 30-second bomb blast.

In a TV set's audio control settings, there may be a selection for "Automatic Volume control" or "Auto Volume" that once selected automatically smooths out the peaks and valleys in the volume. If you don't have the feature built in, you can purchase an external device such as this Audiovox Terk VR1 Automatic TV Volume Controller, found on Amazon for $21.99.

It's worth mentioning what tools consumers have at their hands, besides the mute button, because with so many moving pieces involved, you can be sure that some loud ads will get through. The FCC encourages viewers to report any rogue ads to 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-225-5322).


  1. Roger, I'm confused. Why do I need to buy the controller if the sound level will always be even? Thanks!

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  3. Mark, hopefully we won't need it. Some people have been using those devices already and predict we'll still hear a lot of loud commercials, but I'm hoping whatever transition time there is will be short. I wanted a lot of random cable channels before bed and I have a bad feeling they won't comply right away. But we'll see!

  4. I have been waiting for this change with baited breath (for about a year). Thank the Lord, it's finally here! Hopefully this means the end of rushing to turn down the volume before my eardrums get blasted!