In the age of the TV remote and DVR, when viewers can adjust (or mute!) volume or skip commercials entirely without moving from the couch, it’s hard to fathom why Congress would consider it necessary to regulate the decibel levels of television advertising. But that’s precisely the purpose of the CALM Act (Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act), which, in addition to ranking among the most excessive exercises of government authority, also ranks high on the list of truly irritating acronyms.
The new law directs the Federal Communications Commission to ensure that the volume of commercials does not exceed the average maximum loudness of the program they accompany. Of course, the regulation doesn’t prevent loud programming—at least not yet.