Have you ever noticed ads sometimes seem louder than the actual TV show you’re watching? If so, you're not alone.
One VERIFY viewer recently emailed our team to ask if there is a law that regulates how loud TV commercials can be.
“It seems it keeps getting louder and louder,” the viewer wrote.
Is there a law that regulates how loud TV commercials can be?
- Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
- Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act
- Jonathan Ogle, founder and principal of The Infinite Agency in Dallas, Texas
Yes, there is a law that regulates how loud TV commercials can be.
WHAT WE FOUND
There is a law that regulates how loud commercials can be on traditional TV in the United States. In 2010, Congress passed the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act, which requires commercials on broadcast, cable and satellite TV to have the same average volume as the programs they accompany. The rules under the CALM Act are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The CALM Act doesn’t apply to commercials aired on streaming services, like Hulu, YouTube TV or Peacock, since they’re not regulated by the FCC. In May 2022, legislation was introduced in Congress to amend the current law to include streaming services, but it didn’t advance to a vote.
Jonathan Ogle, founder and principal of The Infinite Agency, an integrated advertising agency based in Dallas, Texas, told VERIFY that commercial advertisers work with broadcast, cable and satellite TV stations to make sure their ads are CALM Act compliant.
“Our job is to make sure that we're hitting the specs that the platforms and the networks have asked,” Ogle said. “And so, as we submit those files, typically, we're trying to do that in what's called an average audio volume level. And then, it's up to the networks to play it at those same levels.”
Though the FCC sets the rules, it doesn’t monitor programming for loud commercials. Instead, it relies on viewers to flag potential problems. If you’ve experienced what you believe is a violation of the rules regarding the loudness of commercial TV ads, you can file a complaint with the FCC.
Here’s what to include in your complaint:
- If you watched the commercial on broadcast, cable or satellite TV
- The name of the advertiser or product promoted in the commercial
- The date and time you saw the commercial
- The name of the TV program during which the commercial aired and the channel number or station call sign
If the commercials are still too loud on your TV, the FCC recommends checking the audio settings on your TV. Some models have features that normalize volume levels to ensure consistency across programs and commercials.