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Forget Health Care, House Votes to Turn Down Loud Commercials

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on December 16, 2009 12:15 PM

Citizens, this is bi-partisanship in action. We can't agree on health care. We can't agree on Afghanistan. But we can agree that those darn loud commercials have got to go. And go they will, under HR 1084, which the House of Representatives bill approved Tuesday by voice vote. Loud voice vote.

After decades of FCC complaints about the incredibly high volume of commercials in comparison with TV programs, congress has decided to take action. Bill sponsor, Anna Eshoo (D-Ca), drafted the legislation after discovering what a common complaint noise level was with the FCC. Consumers have been griping about the noise as far back as the 1960's.

As with anything Congress takes up these days, there are issues. In order to manage the variation in volume between programs and commercials, broadcastors may need to purchase new equipment. An industry organization, the Advanced Television Systems Committee, has recently produced guidelines on how to process, measure and transmit audio in a uniform way. The House bill will enforce the recommendations as regulations and require compliance by 2012. According to Eshoo, the industry needs a push to comply with the standards set by its own organization. "Volunteerism hasn't worked for 50 years," she said.

Lest you think the push against loud commercials came entirely from Democratis, note that Republicans want the noise turned down as well. Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fl) addressed the question of why this should be a matter for Congress. "You can say, 'Well, that's fine. Just turn it off,'" Stearns said about the lous commercials. "But it's constantly an irritant when you have to do it. And we've got all the new bowl games coming up." 

Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y), have introduced companion legislation in the Senate.  

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