Complaints of loud TV commercials are growing, and now the FCC wants your help to turn down the volume

  • Consumer complaints about loud TV ads are on the rise, according to Insider’s analysis.
  • Now, the FCC is seeking public comment on how to enforce its rules for broadcast and cable services.
  • “I urge everyone who is annoyed to submit their complaints,” said Rep. Anna Eshoo, who wrote the law.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

It’s not just you. TV commercials are too loud, according to a growing number of complaints.

More people are complaining to the Federal Communications Commission about loud ads that are in potential violation of a 2011 law called the CALM Act.

On Monday, the FCC’s media bureau responded to a call to action from the author of the CALM Act, Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (CA-18), and announced it is seeking public comment about how it can better enforce the rule against noisy broadcasts. Eshoo’s letter cited a report by Insider’s Walt Hickey last month analyzing a surge in complaints over loud commercials.

“In particular, we invite consumers to tell us their experiences as they watch programming provided by television broadcasters and MVPDs,” the FCC said in its notice, using an acronym that refers to cable and satellite providers.

Notably absent here are digital streaming services, like Netflix or Hulu, which the FCC has no legal jurisdiction over.

Streamers, as Hickey pointed out in his deep-dive into the issue, “may look aesthetically similar to a cable package, but from the perspective of the FCC, you may as well ask them to regulate your toaster.”

Even so, there are still more than 120 million TV households who have not gone completely digital, and Insider’s analysis of FCC data shows the loudness problem has been steadily getting worse.


“I authored the law to put an end to this national irritant, but complaints are rising again,” Rep. Eshoo said in a statement about the FCC’s announcement. “I urge everyone who is annoyed to submit their complaints to the FCC about loud ads to ensure violations of the CALM Act can be investigated.”

While the FCC took a generally lax approach to regulation and enforcement under former chairman Ajit Pai, the new administration appears to be taking a more active approach.

“Every now and then, the FCC seems to take steps to remind broadcasters of their obligations,” broadcast lawyer David Oxenford wrote in a blog post. “This seems to be one of those times.”

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