Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Quieter TV commercials law goes into effect

Former FCC Chair Michael Powell, left, congratulates Rep. Anna Eshoo and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse on their bill, which regulates the volume of TV commercials.

Perhaps it’s appropriate in this season of silent nights that a new law has kicked in ensuring that overly-loud commercials won’t blast TV watchers away. Appropriately, the genesis of the law came on a not-so-silent night.

Democratic Congresswoman Anna Eshoo of Palo Alto had her family over for dinner one evening.  The TV was on in the next room. Eshoo says they were watching a sports event, "and then the blast of the commercial came on."

Eshoo says she shouted out to her brother-in-law: “Do something about that!” She says he shouted back: “You’re the Congresswoman, you do something about it!”

So she did.

Eshoo wasn’t the only who’s complained about screaming ads. A Harris Poll three years ago indicated that high commercial volume bothers nearly 9 of 10 TV viewers. Several members of Congress say that at town halls, complaints about blaring TV ads were as common as concerns about Social Security.