TV viewing could soon sound a little calmer. The CALM Act, which limits the volume of TV commercials, went into effect Thursday.
CALM stands for Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation. The act is designed to prevent TV commercials from blaring at louder volumes than the program content they accompany. The rules govern broadcasters as well as cable and satellite operators.
The rules are meant to protect viewers from excessively loud commercials.
At WPDE, one new device will make it happen.
"It is a loudness processor," said WPDE media operations manager Ben Brotherton.
Brotherton says the new rule sets a volume standard for all programming and every channel, so there won't be big swings in volume from one station to the next, or from a program to a commercial.
He says the challenge is that many programs, like Grey's Anatomy, may have long stretches of silence or soft conversation. Then a commercial comes up and blows the viewer away.
"We have to keep that full dynamic range to make the shows sound right and perform right and be that entertainment, so you can't just say knock everything down at the top, you can't just say bring everything up from the bottom. You need to keep that original range."
Brotherton says the new rule should solve the commercial loudness problem - maybe. Producers of commercials will always push the volume limits, he says.
Will the new rule really silence the complaints?
"It may not solve it, but I think it'll help it," says Jim Makely of Stewart, Florida, who was shopping for electronics at the Myrtle Beach HH Gregg store Thursday.
The new rule requires all channels and content providers to regularly check their volume output to make sure they comply.
The FCC approved the rule a year ago, but gave the industry a grace period to adopt it.
Suspected violations can be reported by the public to the FCC on its website.