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Persons with sensitive ears have a good reason to give thanks to the Federal Communications Commission this holiday season. The agency has unanimously voted to adopt rules banning obnoxiously loud commercials.
The new rules, which will take effect next December, were made at Congress' direction. Last year, legislators passed the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act (CALM Act), requiring the agency to deal with the noisy problem.
Loud commercials have apparently been a top consumer complaint for years, according to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. He's responsible for introducing the CALM Act into the Senate.
Under the new regulations, U.S. broadcasters, cable and satellite companies must ensure that commercials are no louder than the television programs that surround them, reports Bloomberg. Larger companies will also be expected to spot-check channels on a frequent basis to ensure compliance.
Television providers will need to purchase equipment to regulate commercial volume, notes Bloomberg. This is because commercials are inserted by networks that then provide the programming to broadcasters. Noise reduction becomes the responsibility of broadcasters if networks fail to do it themselves.
Broadcasters have long chosen not to correct the noise disparities because they believe it is too costly. But the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the equipment upgrade will only cost the industry a collective $141 million, notes Bloomberg.
Infrastructure upgrades such as these are commonly passed onto the consumer, which means you might see a minimal uptick in your monthly television bill. But on the bright side, you won't have to deal with overly loud commercials after December 2012.