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Congress Tamps Down on Annoying Commercials

September 30, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Come 2012, climate change, unemployment, the broken U.S. immigration system, and campaign-finance corruption may very well be unaddressed national catastrophes as a result of Senate gridlock. But, hey, at least watching TV will be a little less irritating. Maybe.

The Commercial Advertising Loudness Mitigation Act has been kicking around Congress for a few years now thanks to Rep. Anna Eshoo [D, CA-14]. Yesterday, before adjourning for the midterms, the Senate passed it under unanimous consent, following up on the House’s passage of it last year and moving it forwards toward becoming law.

The bill is simple. It calls for the Federal Communications Commission to issue, within 1 year, regulations implementing the highly-technical volume guidelines that were drawn up recently by the “Advanced Television Systems Committee,” an industry group that sets standards and issues recommendations, insofar as they pertain to commercials. It also gives the FCC power to issue a waiver to any “television broadcast station, cable operator, or other multichannel video programming distributor that demonstrates that obtaining the equipment to comply with the regulation […] would result in financial hardship.”

Because the House and Senate versions have some minor differences, either a conference committee will be convened to reconcile them in the lame-duck session, or the House will just agree to accept the Senate’s version. Either way, this is set to become law, so sometime in 2012 try to remember to pay attention to the volume of infomercials to see if this worked at all.

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