CAS Quarterly

Spring 2018

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 67 of 79

68 S P R I N G 2 0 1 8 C A S Q U A R T E R L Y We thought maybe we were crazy, or didn't understand the word "mandated," so we looked into it, initially to prove (mostly to ourselves) that we weren't nuts. Here's a little background: The Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act was passed on September 29, 2010. The bill was proposed in the House of Representatives by Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, a Democrat from California. Legend has it she was inspired to write the bill after disproportionately loud television commercials interrupted a holiday dinner she was hosting. Conceived as a solution to the loud commercial problem, the CALM Act references something called the Advanced Television Systems Committee's Recommended Practice ATSC A/85. The full document is available at, but we'll attempt to convey the highlights. As ATSC A/85 gets updated, the CALM Act is automatically updated to reflect any new recommendations. So, in essence, the CALM Act is bound directly to A/85. From the FCC website: "Specifically, the CALM Act directs the Commission to establish rules that require TV stations, cable operators, satellite TV providers, or other multichannel video program distributors to apply the ATSC A/85 Recommended Practice to commercial advertisements they transmit to viewers." While the scope of this bill is directly focused on commercials, if you mix episodic television, be it long- form or half-hour, by association you must mix within the guidelines of this act. The intent is that, when watching TV, viewers can go from program to commercial and back to program without any apparent change in loudness and, as you change channels, you can go from one to the next with the same experience. It's worth mentioning that prior to the creation of this legislation, the number one complaint to the FCC with regards to broadcast television was the unpleasant loudness of commercials. Since the time the act took effect on December 13, 2012, it's worth noting that the number one complaint to the FCC in regards to broadcast television is ... still the loudness of commercials! OK, so apparently the passage of the act didn't work out exactly as planned. This begs the question: "Why are we adhering to a regulation that affects how we mix and potentially limits our creative choices for a set of rules that seems to be having limited effect on the overall problem of disproportionately loud commercials? And what does this tell us?" First, it tells us if you want anything to happen in Washington, you should start by interrupting a congressperson during their dinner. We also learned that these rules and regulations are not succeeding exactly the way they were meant to. So we decided to dig in and find out why. b y J o n G r e a s l e y a n d G r e g K i n g AS RE-RECORDING MIXERS, there is nothing like starting a new mix; the feel of faders under your fingers, the warm glow of the computer monitor on your face and the wonderful prospect of a creative day ahead of you. Then someone spoils the mood by handing you the delivery requirements. "Wait, what? Why is this different from the last show, the other network, the other streaming service?" We were under the impression there were agreed upon guidelines, a paper called ATSC A/85 (Advanced Television Systems Committee) that documents firm loudness recommendations. Its practices are even mandated in an act of Congress called the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act. So how is it every delivery sheet we get asks for different loudness specifications? STAY CALM AND CARRY ON MIXING

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of CAS Quarterly - Spring 2018