Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Television viewers who feel like commercials are much louder than the programs are about to catch a break.
New rules governing the audio levels of commercials go into effect Thursday.
Television stations have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless hours over the last year to make sure they are ready to comply with the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act or CALM Act.
The new Federal Communications Commission rules require TV stations as well as networks and cable and satellite providers to limit a commercial's average volume to the same average volume as the program it accompanies.
The new rule, however, does not dictate how loud regular programming can be.
Television stations across the country have purchased and installed new equipment to keep audio levels in check, but if your TV is new enough, you already have some tools at your disposal.
"We've had auto-volume on sets for a decade or more and it's just for that reason: So people wouldn't have the great spikes in the volume," said Greg Hephner, owner of Hephner TV in Wichita.
He said auto-volume is a feature that many television owners overlook. Hephner said features like auto-volume, just like the new FCC rules, were introduced as a way to keep viewers happy.
"You don't want to have to sit there with the volume remote and be changing back and forth all the time to raise and lower," he said. "So this creates a little easier go of it on the volume side."
Hephner said he already fields fewer complaints about commercial audio levels than he used to, so he -- like many TV viewers -- is hoping the CALM Act be another benefit.
"You want to be able to take away those things that detract from the programming or make people not want to tune in," he said. "So it's nice when the manufacturer will do something like have a volume leveler or the stations do what they can to keep it under control."