Big Brother, Meet Big Sister

According to The Hill newspaper on Friday, Representative Anne Eshoo (D-CA), who introduced the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act in 2008 to regulate decibel levels on television ads, has gotten her bill through the House Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet.

As a typically empathetic Democrat, Eshoo believes what SHE feels, thinks, hears, etc. is what’s best for everyone. A McClatchy article on June 10, 2009 quoted Eshoo saying, “Every time the ads came on they blew me out of my seat…It really turns you off, makes you think, ‘I’ll be damned if I give them any of my money.'” Regulations already state an ad cannot be louder than the loudest volume of the show during which the ad is played, according to David Perry, the chairman of the broadcast production committee of the American Association of Advertising Agencies in New York

The bill Eshoo sponsored last year (and reintroduced this year) includes:

(a) Regulation Required- Within one year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Federal Communications Commission shall prescribe pursuant to the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 151 et seq.) a regulation that provides, in connection with any video programming that is broadcast or that is distributed by any multichannel video programming distributor, that–

(1) advertisements accompanying such video programming shall not be excessively noisy or strident;

(2) such advertisements shall not be presented at modulation levels substantially higher than the program material that such advertisements accompany; and

(3) the average maximum loudness of such advertisements shall not be substantially higher than the average maximum loudness of the program material that such advertisements accompany.

However, now comes the even scarier part: the Federal Communications Commission has decided to take up a proposal that would limit decibel levels to that of the AVERAGE in the show. They’ll have to be fast though-?Eshoo’s bill has?82 House co-sponsors. According to the McClatchy article, it also has two Senate sponsors.

Fortunately, common sense still has something of a foothold in Washington, D.C.- the broadcasting industry is already working with advertisers to change the decibel levels because THEY HAVE RECEIVED COMPLAINTS about the volume. Once again, when it comes to consumer choice and wants, the government is not needed- first, because we can
change channels (I know, it takes some effort to press that remote’s button, Congresswoman Eshoo- maybe that can be part of the preventative care for helping America slim down in the final health care bill?), and secondly because, again,?complaints have been coming in. The free market, and free consumer choice, work; the government doesn’t. Even the bill’s previous Senate sponsor, Republican Senator Wicker of Mississippi, has admitted he would rather work outside of Congress for the changes preferred.

As The Heritage Foundation put it on their blog, “Is this really something the federal government needs to be doing? Are we paying taxes so that federal bureaucrats can act as our communal mute button?”

Personally, I wonder if Eshoo will regulate Keith Olbermann and Ed Schultz as well- every time they come on, it “really turns me off” from MSNBC.



4 Responses to “Big Brother, Meet Big Sister”
  1. Little Bro says:

    Hi Dustin,
    I’ve been reading your columns for over five years now, and I think this is your best one yet. Succinct, clever, and (most importantly) exactly right. See you at Thanksgiving!

  2. Dan says:

    You’ve hit the nail on the head. Are viewers paralyzed so that they cannot change the channel or mute? If so, them Congress needs to investigate the possibility of “rays” coming out of the screen causing this paralysis, rather than the control of sound level. And why don’t these “paralysis rays” affect me? Inquiring minds, etc.


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