This great country faces many challenges and problems. But amid the pessimism and despair comes a beacon of hope for the weary masses: No more loud TV commercials. Oh, yes, Virginia. There is a Santa Claus. And this year we bring you the gift of calm—invaluable serenity as you sit on that couch, your forearm fused to the leather armrest by the sweaty, biological equivalent of Gorilla Glue as your other arm gains vital exercise working the remote control. Sure, you watch everything on-demand or through your DVR—meaning you don’t really watch commercials anymore anyway—but let’s face it: With passage of the CALM Act (which stands for Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation, or “We Have Really Creative Young Staffers Who Spent Happy Hour Trying to Make the Word Calm Into a Relevant Acronym”), Congress has saved you from the horror of loud commercials on those few occasions you actually watch them.
Afghanistan. Iraq. WikiLeaks. The national debt. High unemployment. A housing crisis.
It was a bipartisan effort, by the way. Republicans, Democrats and Independents came together to tackle this national crisis in a way that brings a tear to the eyes of every American interested in solving our nation’s seemingly insurmountable problems. For the cable industry, it’s a mixed bag. On one hand, let’s all be honest and admit that TV commercials are just too *&$%-ing loud. They are. It’s never been this bad in the history of television. We’ve all sat there serenely watching one of the 2,583 high-quality shows about New Jersey only to be jolted out of our potato-chip chomping stupor by a military-style revelry that signals: You! Will! Buy! This! Car! On the other hand, the economy sucks. None of us are spending enough these days. So perhaps the only way to stimulate the economy in this late stage is to simply yell at us until we buy something. In fact, why didn’t the Loud TV Commercial lobby in Washington use this argument when trying to derail this bill? After all, isn’t it our patriotic duty to endure ear-splitting pitches from the Shake Weight announcer? C’mon! He wants to get you in shape (while making you uncomfortable as you watch people using the product). It’s the American Way!
The bottom line is that the CALM Act is one of those bills that addresses an ingrained populist frustration. It’s a safe bill to support for just about any politician. Who doesn’t want to turn down the volume on TV commercials? Of course, the bill’s passage might remind the cable industry of a similar situation nearly two decades ago when Congress fought to address another TV-related frustration of the American people. It garnered bipartisan support. And Americans cheered when it passed. The bill even overrode a Presidential veto to become law. It was called the 1992 Cable Act. Let’s hope the CALM Act turns out better.
(Michael Grebb is executive editor of CableFAX).