ATSC A/85 on commercial volume

Earlier this week, we highlighted a letter sent last week from Congresswoman Anna Eshoo asking the FCC to review CALM Act complianceThe letter noted that the FCC has received thousands of complaints about loud commercials in the decade that the law has been in effect without having taken any enforcement action.  The FCC wasted no time in reacting, with Media Bureau issuing a request late Monday for comments on the current rules which implement the law and whether changes to those rules are needed.  Comments are due June 3, 2021, with reply comments due by July 9.

The CALM Act (the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act) was passed in 2011 due to the perception of many in Congress that the volume of commercials on broadcast, cable and satellite television was far higher than that in the programming that surrounded the commercials.  After the legislation was passed, the FCC adopted rules to implement the Act (which we described here).  Those rules were principally based on compliance with a set of ATSC (Advanced Television Systems Committee) recommended practices, to be enforced through a complaint-driven system. The FCC has updated those rules once (when ATSC updated its recommended practices – see our article here).  The FCC now asks if those rules should be revisited to make them more effective in combatting the perceived problem of loud commercials.
Continue Reading FCC Being Anything but CALM About Congressional Letter – Asks for Public Comments on CALM Act Enforcement

In December, the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (“CALM”) Act was adopted by Congress and signed by the President, addressing consumer complaints about television commercials that seem louder than the program content that they accompanied. As we wrote in our summary of the Act when it was adopted, Congress has long received many complaints about loud commercials and decided to act, even though many industry groups were concerned about the ability to design an effective system to deal with the contrasts that sometimes exist between the quiet dialogue that might precede a commercial break and the commercial advertisement itself. Nevertheless, Congress adopted the CALM Act, and instructed the FCC to adopt implementing rules within a year. This past week, the FCC released its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, looking to adopt rules to implement the statute for over-the-air television broadcast stations, cable systems, satellite, and other multichannel video programming providers. In its NPRM, the FCC asks many questions trying to clarify the details of CALM Act implementation.

The NPRM raises a broad array of implementation issues, ranging from deciding exactly which broadcast stations and which MVPDs are subject to its terms, to the establishment of safe harbors for technical compliance. As discussed in more detail below, the Commission also asks whether stations and systems can shift the burden for compliance with these rules to program suppliers, such as broadcast and cable networks, and whether contractual means of guaranteeing compliance (such as indemnification provisions in contracts between networks and affiliates) are sufficient to ensure compliance by these program providers. Questions about how MVPDs deal with retransmission of broadcast programs, and who is responsible for noncompliant broadcast programming, are also asked. Finally, the FCC suggests processes for consumer complaints and the grant of waivers to stations and systems that cannot quickly comply with the new rules.


Continue Reading FCC Seeks Comments on Implementation of CALM Act Regulating Loud Commercials on Broadcast and Cable Television