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New rules to control volume of TV ads

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Step away from the remote. At least, you’ll be able to do that next December. That’s when new rules go into effect that should make your television watching experience a little quieter.

It’s a complaint heard many times over. Viewers like Sue Myers are tired of those loud TV commercials startling them.

“You are sitting there calm and relaxed and everything, and then all of a sudden a commercial comes on and just blows your ears out. It’s irritating,” Myers said. “So you get up and you look for the remote so you can turn it down.”

Soon, she will no longer have to search for that remote.

Tuesday, the FCC voted to implement legislation known as CALM, which stands for Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation. Simply put, it means commercials can not be louder than regular programming.

Most television stations have equipment that adjusts the average volume levels, but now to meet the new guidelines, new equipment will actually do a better job monitoring and adjusting what you actually hear.

“With the tools that will be in place later it will eliminate the guesswork, and there will be a consistency through the board programming, and commercial levels shouldn’t change very much,” WWAY engineer Ray Heath said.

It’s a complicated process, though. That’s why the guidelines won’t go into effect until next year; giving broadcasters ample time to get equipment in place.

“When you measure loudness it’s somewhat of a subjective thing,” Heath said. “It really has to do with how we hear, so it’s pretty complicated to actually develop equipment to measure that.”

In the meantime, just knowing what’s coming is music to the ears.

“I think it’s wonderful,” Myers said. “I wish it could be done sooner.”

This could also change how commercials are produced. If they are too loud, TV stations will not be able to air them.

These new rules go into effect December 13, 2012.

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