TV commercials too loud? Try to stay CALM.

Ever notice how TV commercials are usually louder relative to the programming? The federal government sure did, and rode to the rescue of sensitive TV viewers all over these proud United States by outlawing the practice with something called the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act.

I agree that the loudness louts are annoying, but may I just ask: Is this really an issue that requires the intervention of government committees and other highly paid bureaucrats — and, ultimately, of the U.S. Congress? How about just using the mute button on your remote control? How about watching fare without commercials (DVDs, HBO, streaming Netflix, Vudu, etc.), or using a DVR and simply fast-forwarding through the bits you don’t care for? Or how about making a mental note of which advertisers are the most egregious offenders, and buying the competition’s products from there on out? Why does every inconvenience or annoyance require government action and a new law?

Anyway, the CALM Act went into effect a few days ago. Did it take care of the problem? Not so far. A friend of mine just reported that the commercials seem as loud as ever. Writing a law, then, does not magically produce results; to give it teeth, enforcement will be needed. So I guess the next step is where cadres of trained government agents armed with sound meters will swarm into our communities, and mete out ice-cold justice to broadcasters found to have insufficiently turned down the noise.

Americans still tend to think of themselves as rugged individualists. The longer I live here, the more that amuses me. We apparently want the government to fix our every boo-boo. There’s nothing rugged, or individual, about that.


P.S. Even NPR — NPR! — thinks the passing of the CALM Act is worthy of ridicule. Writes Linda Holmes:

My ears demand more help! No taxation without noise mitigation! Pass these now, before it gets loud again!

1. The Pokemon Electronic Whizbang Popcap EA Worldofwarcraft Put an End to it Would you Act (PEWPEWPEW): Requires anyone playing a video game in the presence of others for more than five minutes to offer to turn off or turn down any incidental music, monkey noises, pops, zaps, bloops, and voices saying “FINISH HIM.”


5. The Sidewalk Noises Of Winter Just Eliminate Real Kindness Act (SNOW JERK). Requires anyone who runs a snowblower before 9:00 in the morning on a weekend to blow the snow off of everyone’s driveway in the entire neighborhood, and then serve hot chocolate, and then stop doing that forever.

About Rogier:
Rogier is a Dutch-born, New-England-dwelling multi-media maven (OK, a writer and photographer) whose dead-tree publishing credits include the New York Times, Wired, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Reason.
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