CALM Act Expected to Pass Out of Senate Commerce Committee


The Senate Commerce Committee is marking up Wednesday, and likely will
pass without amendment, the CALM (Commercial Advertisement Loudness
Mitigation) Act, which officially adopts the Advanced Television Systems
Committee's (ATSC) recommended practices for controlling variations in
commercial volume in relation to the programs.

The bill has
already passed the House in essentially the same form. It would direct
the FCC to regulate commercial volume per the ATSC recommendations adopted
last November. It gives cable operators and broadcasters a year from the
law's adoption to comply.

The Senate version has a few slight
tweaks. One clarifies that the standards will be an FCC "mandate," not
simply an incorporation of the ATSC guidelines. Another extends that
mandate to any "successor" standard approved by ATSC.

A third
change deals with the language of a waiver (of up to two years beyond
the effective date) for small cable operators or stations for whom
adopting the regime, and the equipment necessary to regularize the
volume, would be a financial hardship.

The waiver language in
both House and Senate versions is the same, but the Senate bill makes
reference to it higher in the bill as a parenthetical caveat in the
language establishing the mandate, saying that mandate is "subject to
any waivers the commission may grant."

Once the bill passes out
of committee, it will need full Senate approval, then goes back to the
House to vote on the changes.