Listen up, TV advertisers: Big Brother is muting you! Well, not entirely. But beginning at midnight tonight, new Federal Communications Commission rules will bar television networks from blasting viewers with those excessively loud, screamy commercial breaks. At last you can retrieve your sanity from Empire Carpet and the KIA Hamsters. (The rules will not, however, get those damn kids off your lawn.)
Adopted a year ago Thursday, the rules "will require commercials to have the same average volume as the programs they accompany," the FCC says. The commission was prompted to action last year when Congress passed the "Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act"—the CALM Act. (Never mind the irony of regulating ads with legislation that sounds like it was named in a focus group.)
The enactment raises a host of questions—for example, what will happen to companies that make "volume leveling adaptors"?—and the FCC has set up a handy Q&A site for consumers. It includes pearls of wisdom such as this:
Q: What can I do about loud commercials until the new rules take effect?
A: Manually controlling volume levels with the remote control remains the simplest way to reduce excessive loudness levels. The "mute" button on your TV remote is also useful to control excessively loud audio...
Seriously, though, the site needs your help in identifying rogue advertisers and their networks ("Tell Us About Loud Commercials"). So starting tomorrow morning, if this happens to you, simply report the violators to 1-888-TELL-FCC: