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Cable Technology Feature Article

December 31, 2012

What's Getting Cable Services, Inc. Around Federal Law?

By Steve Anderson, Contributing TMCnet Writer

In North Dakota, there's a cable service that's been quietly operating around a new federal law enacted all the way back in 2010. The Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act, established to keep commercials from being louder than the programs during which they air for the sake of consumer attention, has been on the books for two years, but for Cable Services Inc., it's still business as usual.

Cable Services, Inc. is getting around the new law thanks to a provision in the law that keeps it from being too heavy a burden on smaller cable providers. Those cable services with fewer than 15,000 subscribers can apply for a waiver to get them around the policy, as the equipment involved in keeping both programming and commercials at a constant volume can be expensive.

What's more is the Federal Communications Commission (FCC (News - Alert)) is automatically granting these waivers to any company that qualifies. Cable Services, Inc. is one of them.

In what some might call typical Congressional fashion, early reports indicated that the costs to implement the CALM laws would take less than $20,000, but at least one video provider in Georgia reported costs five times that much, around $100,000.

The FCC, meanwhile, responded that the Georgia provider's projections weren't so much a matter of complying with the law as it was a matter of overkill, calling them "based on a misunderstanding of what equipment was necessary to comply with our rules."

While Cable Services' president, Roy A. Sheppard, is clearly against the program, calling it "a solution looking for a problem," the FCC believes it's quite appropriate, saying that it has received 6,000 complaints about the volume of commercials since just 2008.

Sheppard, however, suggested complaints aren't always accurate, and he's not alone in the belief that this isn't nearly as much of a problem as some may think. Cable One, a cable provider in the Fargo-Moorhead area, rang a note of assent via its general manager, Scott Geston.

He believed televisions would have been the better point to implement such a law, rather than putting the onus on broadcasters.

Individual experiences vary, of course, but 6,000 complaints over the course of even two years –assuming the complaints were received before the law was enacted, four if they weren't – measured against the total television watching public seems so small as to be statistically insignificant.

A law, though, that seems at odds with the standard remote control mute button is cause for debate as well.

Still, those who find their volume too loud during commercials will now be able to file complaints with the FCC by going to their website and filling out a complaint form, noting the time of the incident, the station, and the program during which it occurred.

Keeping CALM in the home is now going to be much easier than ever thought, at least as far as commercial volume goes.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Miami 2013, Jan 29- Feb. 1 in Miami, Florida.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Braden Becker

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