Exactly how the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will implement the federal Commercial Advertising Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act is yet to be seen, but it’s unlikely the commission will say the act is impossible to implement. In these days of partisan rancor, blaring advertisements are hated by almost everyone; therefore, the CALM Act has strong support.

On Dec. 13, the FCC is expected to issue a Report & Order implementing the CALM Act, which will require advertisements to be no louder than the programs they accompany. (For more, click here). Cable operators will have one year to come into compliance with the new rules.

Organizations including the American Cable Association (ACA) have filed comments with the FCC, arguing it’s not fair to put the entire CALM compliance onus on operators and broadcasters, and some comments have noted technical difficulties in enforcing the Act. (For more, see ACA: CALM Has Implementation Problems).

But for vendors that supply software that allows operators to manage audio levels, the new ruling may prove a boon for business. Steve Liu, vice president/Video Network Monitoring at Tektronix, says the company’s Sentry Assure software can fix audio problems, and it also can provide a record of loudness infractions.

He explains that when a consumer reports loud commercials to the FCC, the agency probably will require the video provider to prove itself innocent. Sentry Assure can identify which commercials were overly loud and in which content they were played.

According to Tektronix, Sentry Assure combines the ability to monitor hundreds of channels simultaneously in real time for loudness detection; it also provides post-splice ad-insertion monitoring.

As far as sorting the culprits from the innocents, Liu says, "I think it’s a process. People start getting familiar with the rules. They may need to work with the original content provider."

The ACA claims the CALM Act will be burdensome for smaller operators that may not be able to afford such products as Sentry Assure, which has been deployed mostly among the bigger operators at this point.

"To a certain extent, they (smaller operators) do not have control, and cost could be an issue," admits Liu. The FCC may include a hardship provision to give smaller operators more time to comply, during which time all parties in the video supply chain may have mended their loud ways.

– Linda Hardesty

The Daily


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