S. 2847: CALM Act

S. 2847

CALM Act

Sponsor
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse

Date
November 30, 2010 (111th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

S. 2847 is expected to be considered on the floor of the House on Tuesday, November 30, 2010, under a motion to suspend the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage. The legislation was introduced on December 8, 2009, by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). The Senate approved the bill on September 29, 2010, by unanimous consent.

Bill Summary

S. 2847 would require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to issue a regulation, based on industry standards, for loud commercial advertisements within one year of enactment.

The bill would require the FCC regulation to incorporate by reference the "Recommended Practice: Techniques for Establishing and Maintaining Audio Loudness and Digital Television."  The only portion of the guidance that would be incorporated by the bill concerns the transmission of commercial advertisements by a television broadcast station, cable operator, or other multichannel video programming distributor.

The bill would permit the FCC to grant a waiver for one year if a broadcast station, cable operator, or other multichannel video programming distributor demonstrates a financial hardship.  It would also allow the waiver to be renewed for an additional year.

Background

Some television viewers have complained about volume fluctuations between a program and commercials shown during the program.  Broadcasters and program producers have leeway on the volume levels used for advertisements, and the Federal Communications Commission does not currently regulate such matters.

The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) is an international, nonprofit organization that develops voluntary standards for digital television.  On November 5, 2009, the ATSC announced the approval of the "ATSC Recommended Practice: Techniques for Establishing and Maintaining Audio Loudness for Digital Television" that is referenced by the legislation.

Cost

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that implementing S. 2847 would have no significant effect on the federal budget.

However, CBO reports that the bill would impose both an intergovernmental mandate and a private-sector mandate by requiring television broadcast stations, cable operators, and other multichannel video programming distributors to meet the standards. CBO reports that the cost of compliance would depend on the method used to comply with the mandate, and cites industry estimates that indicate the cost of equipment to control volume could range from "a few thousand dollars to about $20,000 per device.”