by Marc Oestreich
on December 5, 2010
The U.S. House of Representatives this past week heard and responded to the complaints of the people… in 1996. The Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act, sponsored by republican Anna Eshoo from California, was finally passed. The Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act requires little explanation. It essentially gives the FCC control to regulate the volume difference between regular television programming and advertisements.
Perhaps the act was born when the Rep found it difficult to review the intricacies of the latest rendezvous between Meredith and McDreamy over commercial breaks. She found herself yelling, “I just wish they’d bring Addison back from Private Practice to reclaim her man,” over the top of a blaring Coors advertisement in the background. How could she make her romcom gossiping easier… I mean how could she best serve her constituents who pay her massive D.C. Office (and probably paid for that 52 inch plasma showing McSteamy’s pecs larger than life)?
Ding. A dim, mercury-laden, earth-friendly bulb flickered over her head. She’d use her bully pulpit to mandate that commercials can’t be loud.
She didn’t waste any time with the intricacies and ramifications of such a policy, after all this is a pressing issue demanding the utmost expediency from American lawmakers. She didn’t bother to see that the market had already solved the problem, a mere 10years earlier. Sony introduced the volume limiting feature in 1996 and competitors were soon to follow. In fact, a cursory look through Best Buy shows me that most flat panel TVs have the feature built in right now.
She didn’t ask herself if the market had failed to deliver, and she didn’t bother either to ask herself if such a policy were even necessary. If the Coors commercial in the background were shown to irritate viewers so much, they would likely change the channel or stop buying Coors. Either market pressure would quickly trigger a change in the networks volume control.
But why bother with a free market, free and open commerce, or, hell, even the freedom of speech when big mother government is there looking out for our best interests. I wonder what other market-solved nuisances from the 90′s can be mandated out of existence. A mandate for cruise control in every vehicle? The Elimination of Popup Advertisements on the Internet Act? Perhaps she’ll mandate that VCR clocks get automatically set by the FCC as well?
I hesitate to mention more, D.C. might just see the next big idea.