October 01, 2010, 7:56 AM — Well here's some government legislation that we can (well, most of us anyway) all get behind: CALM. It stands for the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act and it is meant to prevent broadcasters from jacking up the volume of television commercials. You know the drill: you're watching TV and the show is at a nice comfortable volume then some stupid ad comes up and suddenly the speakers are blaring, the baby is awake and crying, the neighbor is pounding on the floor and the dog is howling.
OK I may be exaggerating some, but it is really annoying when ads are louder than programming. The bill passed the Senate yesterday and is headed to the House, which has already passed a similar bill back in December 2009, according to Tech Daily Dose. Supporters hope the House will remain receptive to this version of the bill when it comes up in mid-November.
My hope is that the bill somehow includes digital content. Among my other gripes with Hulu Plus is the fact that the ads are significantly louder than the content (and unskippable).
Now some will argue that we don't need the bill because some home theater receivers will moderate volume automatically or because we all time-shift our shows via DVR these days, and skip the ads altogether. And if we're only talking about the tech audience that's probably true. But there are still plenty of families out there watching on just a stand-alone TV with no home theater receiver and no DVR. Hard to believe I know, but it's true. And even with a DVR, and I know this will shock some of you, there are times when we choose to watch ads. In my household we'll abort the "skip these ads" fast forwarding process in order to see a new movie trailer or just watch something that catches our eye because it looks funny or clever. Then that ads ends and suddenly we're blown off the couch by the cranked up volume in an ad for a local furniture store or something.
Here's a friendly note to advertisers. Annoying us with a high volume isn't the way to get our attention. Coming up with clever ads is. How many of us watched the "Old Spice Guy" commercials (by the way did you see him in the latest episode of Chuck?) or going back a little further, the Mac vs PC ads that Apple ran? Ads just need to legitimately inform or entertain us enough that it becomes less of a hassle to watch them than it is to reach for the remote. How hard can that be? Pretty darn hard, apparently, given how few get it right.
Anyway, let's hope the House passes the CALM Act and President Obama signs it. It can only help.