You have to love Washington, D.C. I’m not what you would call a news junkie but even someone like me knows that our government is in the throes of addressing some of the most trying times on our history.
Some of the highlights of our situation: the highest unemployment in a generation; the financial, housing, media and automobile industries in tatters and surviving on life support at this point; continued unrest and violence in the Middle East, including the possibly escalating war in Afghanistan and the madman at the helm in Iran; and finally, the debate about health care that rages on from coast to coast. In the midst of these headlines, we've had an ACORN scandal, an Olympic debacle, and news about any number of personal indiscretions committed by our elected officials that have come to light.
Yes, Washington seems to be occupied by a number of critical issues. Which is why I was delighted to hear that in the midst of all this, the House Energy and Commerce Committee is taking on one of the most pressing problems of all, by enacting the Commercial Advertising Loudness Mitigation Act, also known as C.A.L.M. This is exactly what you think it is.
You know how you plop down at night, all set to click through something like 400 channels as you look for the same old movie to watch on TNT (The Shawshank Redemption / Lord of the Rings) or AMC (Lonesome Dove / A Few Good Men) or TBS (Wedding Crashers / Titanic) and once in a while, you find yourself somehow stuck in a commercial break? Or maybe you somehow forgot to DVR a program or a movie and you are forced to watch it in “real time,” not in "recorded time" that would allow you to fast-forward through every break. As a result, you get confronted with a commercial or two, a circumstance that’s usually as rare as Congress putting something to a vote. But like every twenty-first century American with access to a keyboard or keypad of any kind, instead of watching it attentively, you surf the net or send a text message or Twitter something or update your Facebook status or check your bank balance or read your work email or buy something online or play thirteen quick games of Solitaire or Bejeweled to pass the time until the program begins again.
But it’s not that simple. Ever notice how the commercials are much LOUDER than the program you’re watching? That’s not an accident or your imagination. In this age of TIVO, DVR and HULU, networks are desperate to have someone watch their commercials before they lose every single advertiser that still pays attention when they announce their fall season programming. If they have to assault your senses to do it, they will.
But like I said, that should come to an end. We have Washington on our side. I suppose if the Commercial Advertising Loudness Mitigation Act gets passed, we’ll get some relief from commercials shouting at us every night. Thank God the House Energy and Commerce Committee knows where to focus their energy and effort.