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Local TV Stations told to “turn it down”

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


No matter what channel - 10, 6 or 12 -it is something that is unavoidable when watching TV.


For a long time, decades really, commercials have been louder than programs people watch. But soon TV commercials will need to turn down the volume. Thanks to legislation that has now been sent to President Obama after clearing the both the US House and Senate, things should get quiet when a person is watching television.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse sponsor of legislation

The Commercial Advertising Loudness Mitigation Act or CALM as it is known - is a fancy way of saying that the FCC will now have direct authority to require advertisers to have technology which will even out sound levels and stop those blaring commercials.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, who sponsored the legislation, says the time has come to provide a solution to what he calls an annoying practice by broadcasters.

 “While this may be an effective way for ads to grab attention, it also adds unnecessary stress to the daily lives of many Americans" Whitehouse said.

The FCC says loud ads have been a top consumer complaint year after year.

Which local stations monitor sound

WLNE Chief Engineer, Jim Brown, in communicating to a viewer about this specific issue, said Channel 6 "does it's best" to keep audio levels of commercials and programming the same. But Brown says current equipment only deals with the overall sound level for commercials and tv shows at the station. " With the passage of the new law there will be standards set for loudness" said Brown. That means all the stations here in Providence will have to use the same equipment to keep sound levels in a normal range.

Channel 6 General Manager Steve Doerr says he doesn't really think loud-sound is a problem at all. "In the 3-plus years I’ve been running WLNE-TV / ABC6 and News Channel 5, I have received at most a half dozen complaints" Doerr told GoLocalProv.

But again, the FCC says it's a real problem and that's why it has been a complaint from viewers in 21 of the Federal Communications Commissions last 24 quarterly reports.

At WJAR, station management says historically they have not monitored sound levels. But when the NBC affiliate flipped the switch to high definition, equipment was added to keep an eye on what people hear. General Manager, Lisa Churchville says, having stations adopt a standard is good for the viewer.

We're not sure if Channel 12 monitors the sound of commercials. Our requests for comment to local station executives went unanswered on this topic.

Viewers may still have to suffer through more blaring ads about blenders and cars for the time being. Once the legislation is signed by the President, stations here have to make the equipment changes within one-year.

We'll be watching.
And listening too.

Jeff Derderian is a former television news reporter and anchor both in Providence and Boston. He is one of the founders of the Station Education Fund. He can be reached at [email protected]


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