Lowering Commercial Volume.

My holiday gift to you is a topic of dinner table conversation that, if my experience is any guide, can bring about a rare moment of unanimity regardless of the politics of your assorted relatives. I happened to casually mention during a holiday get together this past weekend that Congress is hot on the case of how loud TV commercials get compared to regular programming. I expected a polite, "That's nice, Nancy." Or maybe a "Talk about overreaching!" Instead, all involved felt this was one of smartest things Capitol Hill has done in many, many years.

I tend to DVR my way through commercials, I guess, or else I'm just all that attentive. Other than the occasional Billy Mays shout fest, I've never registered that TV ad spots often run several decibels louder than TV programs. Alas, there doesn't seem to be all that much research available on why that is, though we might imagine that the ad makers are trying to draw your attention away from your commercial-break conversations or trips to the kitchen.

I think I may be in the minority in being untroubled by this particular lifestyle issue, though. The House has passed -- on a voice vote -- Anna Eshoo's (D-CA) Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act. The CALM Act, would direct the FCC to regulate TV commercial volume to be pegged to the volume of regular programming, so as not to be "excessively noisy or strident." Seems to be a real crowd pleaser.

--Nancy Scola

(Photo credit: Grant Neufeld)

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