FCC rules require TV stations, cable operators, satellite TV operators and other pay TV providers to ensure television commercial advertisements have the same average volume as the programs that they accompany, in accordance with the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act (PDF). A commercial may have louder and quieter moments, but overall it should be no louder than the surrounding programming, which may mean that some commercials will comply with the rules, but still sound "too loud" to some viewers.
Equipment may help with overall volume
If you are experiencing problems with spikes in volume across both programming and commercials, you may be able to activate certain settings in your television or home theater system to help stabilize overall loudness. Many televisions and home theater systems have features to control loudness, such as automatic gain control, audio compression, or audio limiters, that can be turned on to provide a more constant volume level across programs and commercials. These functions usually need to be activated through the equipment's "Set Up/Audio" menu.
Filing a complaint
The Commission relies on consumer complaints to monitor industry compliance with the rules. The information in your complaint helps the Commission identify possible patterns or trends of noncompliance for a particular station, pay TV provider or commercial and take appropriate action.
You have multiple options for filing a complaint with the FCC:
- File a complaint online
- By phone: 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322); TTY: 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322)
- By mail (please include include your name, address, contact information and as much detail about your complaint as possible):
Federal Communications Commission
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, DC 20554
What to include in your complaint
- If you watched the commercial on pay TV (cable or satellite) or if you watched it on a broadcast station
- The name of the advertiser or product promoted in the commercial
- The date and time you saw the commercial
- The name of the TV program during which it aired
- Which TV station (by call sign and/or channel number and the station's community) or pay TV provider transmitted the commercial
- If you watched the commercial on pay TV, the channel number on which you saw it and the cable programmer or network
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