Yes, we should ban loud commercials
By Jo-Ann Armao
It isn’t the most pressing issue of our time. But it surely is one of the most annoying. So I’m putting aside my skepticism of government trying to solve all our social ills to cheer a bill working its way through Congress that would eliminate BLARINGLY LOUD television commercials.
H.R. 1084, the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act (CALM), got a big boost recently when the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed it on a voice vote. Sponsored by Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.), the measure would prevent television advertisements from playing at a volume noticeably above the programs during which they air. The bill will now go to the floor for consideration in the full House; Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) is said to be ready to introduce a similar measure in the Senate.
Okay, before you start: yes, I know how to work the mute button on my remote. Likewise, I know I can always leave the room. Or DVR programs so I can fast-forward through the commercials. But I don’t see why I -- or millions of other television viewers -- should have to suffer even one second of these obnoxious (not to mention harmful to hearing) advertisements. Having set the volume of my television, why should an outside entity be able to override that choice? Unhappiness with blaring commercials ranks as the most persistent consumer complaint with the Federal Communications Commission. The best it has managed to come up with is for viewers to be quick on the draw in hitting the mute button. The television and cable industry are moving to put voluntary standards in place, but it’s clear they only acted because of threat of congressional action.
Eshoo says that never in her 17 years in the House has she carried a bill for which there has been so much enthusiasm: “Only the ‘Do Not Call List has even come close.” And, that, to my mind, is another reason to like the bill: it’s a slim glimmer of hope at a time of bitter partisanship that there are still some issues on which Democrats and Republicans are able to put the rancor aside.
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