Mark Humphrey, Associated Press


The Federal Communications Commission is relying on viewers to help police broadcasters. To report too-loud commercials:

• Call 888-225-5322.

• Or mail the FCC, Consumer & Government Complaints Division, 445 12th St. SW., Washington, D.C. 20554.

• Include time and date of the commercial, a description of the ad, plus the station or network.

Psst: TV ads about to get a lot quieter

  • Article by: NEAL JUSTIN
  • Star Tribune
  • December 13, 2012 - 12:05 PM

That salesman screaming at you to buy some new product during your favorite show will have to start minding his manners. Starting Thursday, TV stations and cable providers can no longer crank up the sound during commercials.

It's about time, according to local viewers who are tired of having someone other than their spouse yell at them in their living room.

It's gotten so bad that Robert Freund of Hanover watches most football games without the volume on.

"My husband's a big football fan, so that shows you how annoying it is if he's willing to do that," said his wife, Renee Freund, who herself has learned to watch programs on her DVR so she can skip annoying ads.

The change comes courtesy of the federal CALM Act -- short for Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation -- which was passed more than a year ago by Congress but didn't go into effect until this week so local stations could update their equipment.

It didn't come soon enough for Matt Towns of Osseo. He got so fed up that two years ago he abandoned traditional TV viewing and now watches his favorite shows via the Internet or digital downloads.

"One minute you're sitting there enjoying a show, the next you've got this loud commercial blasting at you," said Towns, who provides technological support for Target. "I just didn't want to deal with it anymore."

For some, blaring ads are more than just a hassle.

Monique Hammond, vice president of the Twin Cities chapter for the Hearing Loss Association of America, said she suffers acute pain when confronted with unexpected loud noises.

"It's like a gun going off in your head," she said. "There's a certain amount of advertisers' arrogance. If they cannot dazzle me with content, they try to freak me out with noise and I don't appreciate that."

Many insiders in the advertising world agree.

Heath Rudduck, chief creative officer for Campbell Mithun, the Minneapolis-based advertising agency, believes that pumping up the volume on pitches is "sloppy" and "unprofessional."

"I think some of these people are operating from a primitive part of the brain that thinks speaking louder gets you heard more," he said. "But no one likes to get punched in the earlobes."

Chris Butts, a Mankato security guard, is a bit more sympathetic to those peddling products. Yes, he turns down the volume when commercials get too loud, but he's also aware that sometimes raising your voice can work.

"I think it's a clever trick, especially if you've got a great jingle. You end up catching it even if you're not aware of it," he said. "But the ad has got to have something special to it."

Anyone in violation faces potential fines -- and loud complaints from frustrated viewers. • 612-673-7431 Twitter: @nealjustin

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