When you watch television, do commercial advertisements sometimes seem louder than the TV shows they accompany? You should know that TV stations are prohibited from boosting the average volume of commercials to levels beyond the programs they accompany. FCC rules for loud TV commercials are based on the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act (PDF).
Because average volume is the rule, be aware that some commercials with louder and quieter moments may still seem "too loud" to some viewers, but are still in compliance.
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 change the settings on 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 FCC does not monitor programming for loud commercials. We rely on people like you to let us know if they think there's a problem. If you have experienced what you believe is a violation of the rules regarding the loudness of commercial TV ads, you may file a complaint with the FCC at no cost.
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