PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Have you ever noticed the volume of the shows you watch on television is different than that of the commercials?
As of today, the law says television commercials can’t be louder than programming.
The theory has always been simple – commercial advertisers want to make sure you hear their ad when you go to the kitchen or bathroom during a break in your favorite show.
“We always put the TV down like three notches when the commercials come on because it’s like a lot louder than the show we’re watching,” Kara Coulson said.
“Sometimes you have to turn the TV up and down,” William Wilson said.
After getting an earful, Congress said enough is enough and passed the CALM Act, which stands for Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation.
It is designed to make sure the programming and commercials are the same level.
Mark Etzi is the chief engineer at KDKA-TV and Pittsburgh’s CW and said you’re not imagining the difference.
“Yes, some of the stuff is produced loud. With certain compressions techniques, there are a number of ways we receive commercial inventory now,” Etzi said.
Now, television stations, cable and satellite operators must make sure there’s an even level of sound.
“I love it, I absolutely love it because the loud televisions commercials, while they do attract your attention are extremely annoying,” Sandy Osborne said.
A new computer in the KDKA-TV master control room monitors and logs all sound levels and before the audio leaves the station, it runs through software and special compressions equipment to keep the sound within FCC specifications.
However, Etzi said out KDKA can only guarantee that audio level if you are getting it from a set top antenna. If you are watching on a cable or a satellite provider, the audio is going through processing not controlled by the station.
Everyone is going to careful on this issue because ultimately fines could be involved for overly verbose commercials.