Proposed Bill Would Ban Excessively Loud Streaming Commercials

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The legislation would update the CALM Act of 2010 that tackled loud television ads.

Among those who have frantically searched for their TV mute button while simultaneously wondering how and why a commercial could possibly be so much louder than the program they’re streaming, some lawmakers have also had enough.

New legislation introduced in the House and Senate this week would prohibit streaming services from airing commercials that are louder than regular programming.

The bill, called the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation, or CALM, Modernization Act would not only limit the loudness of streaming ads, but also strengthen the Federal Communications Commission’s ability to investigate and enforce violations of the law by broadcast, cable or satellite television operators.

The bill updates the CALM Act of 2010, which limited the loudness of television ads before streaming services became ubiquitous.

“I authored the CALM Act in 2010 with Senator [Sheldon] Whitehouse to put an end to the booming ads on TV that were highly annoying for consumers,” said Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., who introduced the previous legislation after a loud television commercial interrupted a family dinner. “Since the law was enacted, new popular streaming services have recreated the practice of loud ads because the old law doesn't apply to them, and consumers continue to complain about loud ads on broadcast, cable and satellite TV.”

In a statement, Whitehouse called out the loophole streaming services use to air loud commercials and skirt the 2010 law.

“Consumers are fed up with advertisers blaring TV commercials at disruptively high volumes because of a weak FCC enforcement regime and a loophole for streaming TV,” the Rhode Island lawmaker said. “I’m pleased to partner with Congresswoman Eshoo to strengthen our CALM Act to clamp down on loud ads on streaming platforms and give viewers a break.”

Consumer Reports, a nonprofit consumer organization and advocacy group, issued a statement supporting the legislation.

“Consumers don't like loud commercials any more than they did in 2010, when the original CALM Act authored by Congresswoman Eshoo and Senator Whitehouse was signed into law. And they don't distinguish between high volume commercials aired on traditional television platforms versus the many streaming video services accessed by consumers in 2023,” Jonathan Schwantes, senior policy counsel of Consumer Reports, said in a statement. “Consumer Reports strongly supports the introduction of the CALM Modernization Act as a necessary update to the statute, and we urge Congress to act on it this year.”