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Q&A: Where's the volume control on those TV commercials?

Where's the volume control?

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Last year it was announced that in December, TV commercials would be regulated as to their volume. It is now two weeks into the new year, and we are still being "blown" out of our room. To us, they are wasting their money, as we just mute them.

This has been one of the most persistently complained about issues to Ask the Times.

As of Dec. 13, 2012, the "CALM" Act has been in place. The acronym stands for commercial advertisement loudness mitigation, and it specifically prohibits ads from playing at a louder volume than the programming they surround.

But almost no one thought there was going to be 100 percent compliance on Day One, and your letter seems to confirm that.

"There will be monitoring that takes place and I think that that's appropriate. Now if there is a 'major offender' then it could move to fines," Rep. Anna Eshoo, a California Democrat who sponsored the CALM Act, told CBS in December.

But the law requires someone to report violations. That someone is you.

And, as with most laws, there are loopholes. For instance, the law requires that ads conform to the "average" volume of the show in which it's placed. So ads could have louder or quieter moments that average out to the average of the show the ads surround and still comply with the law.

Any station or cable operator also may apply for a one-year waiver if it can show complying would cause a financial hardship. Those waivers are renewable.

If you still want to complain, here's how to do it:

• Online, go to Click on the complaint type and then on the category "loud commercials." Gill out the form and submit.

• You can call the FCC consumer call center toll-free at 1-888-225-5322.

• You can fax a complaint to 1-866-418-0232.

• You can send a letter to the FCC, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, Consumer Inquiries and Complaints Division, 445 12th St. SW, Washington, DC 20554.

'Wheel of Fortune' letter choice

In the bonus round at the end of Wheel of Fortune, they always give the letters R, S, T, L, N and E to the contestants. Why do they always start with those letters?

Those are among the most frequently used letters in the English language, according to a 2004 analysis by In the study, the letter E was the most commonly used letter in English, followed by A, R, I, O, T, N, S and L.

Cornell University conducted a 2004 study based on 40,000 words that found that T, N, S and R were the most commonly used consonants, but that H and D were used more frequently than L.

Wheel of Fortune provides those letters to give contestants a head start in the bonus round.

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Q&A: Where's the volume control on those TV commercials? 01/20/13 [Last modified: Friday, January 18, 2013 6:23pm]
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