Lawmakers seek to turn down the dial on loud television commercials
The decades-long quest to lower the volume of television commercials may finally be nearing fruition.
Complaints about loud advertisements have been raised by television viewers since the 1960s. The absence of a federal law or rule that would prevent advertisers from blaring their commercials at volumes louder than the shows they sponsor is one of the great testaments to the difficulty to get much of anything done in telecommunications policy.
On Wednesday, the Senate Commerce Committee approved legislation introduced by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) that would require the Federal Communications Commission to regulate the volume of television advertisements. That follows a measure introduced last year by Sens. Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), would require the volume of television advertisements to be no louder than the volume of the program during which the advertisements appear. Whitehouse's bill will now move to the Senate floor for consideration by the full chamber. The legislative push against loud TV ads has been spearheaded by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), whose bill passed the House last December.
If passed, the legislation would put an end to the suddenly loud pitch of car salesmen and wonder drugs that interrupt television viewing, Whitehouse said.
“Every American has likely experienced the frustration of abrasively loud television commercials jumping out at you,” said Whitehouse in a statement. “This practice is designed to intentionally disturb our households to attract attention to the ad, and the American public has had enough.”
The committee said that the FCC has received consumer complaints about commercials being louder than television shows since the 1960s. In the 25 quarterly reports on consumer complaints released by the FCC since 2002, 21 have listed the loudness of television commercials as a top complaint.
June 9, 2010; 5:38 PM ET
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