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CALM Act to limit volume on commercials violates First Amendment

The TV commercial was still in its infancy when this ad was made to promote razors in 1951. (Still Shot: N.Y. World-Telegram/Sun Newspaper Collection, U.S. Library of Congress)Congress and President Barack Obama are incapable of addressing runaway waste in federal spending, but they know how to get something done to “protect” the American people.

You’d think at least one newspaper, TV network or glitzy advertising agency would tell you the CALM Act violates the U.S. Constitution.

Regulations based on the CALM Act became effective Dec. 13.

American ears are presumably safer, although sponsors of the bill appear to be ignorant of the fact most viewers are smart enough to hit mute if they’re offended by increased decibels pitching everything from taxpayer-subsidized cars to Botox.

The Federal Communications Commission, tasked with seeing to it those nefarious capitalists don’t offend your ears, announced:

Effective December 13, 2012, the FCC's rules require television commercial advertisements to have the same average volume as the programs that they accompany. The FCC established these rules to comply with the directive of Congress contained in the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act.

The law violates the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, specifically limits on federal powers over freedom of speech.

Violating the Constitution has never worried Democrats or errant Republicans. The most egregious violation, one that should’ve seen anyone who voted for it turned out of office, was the health tax bill Dems promoted as healthcare reform. Since passing the ObamaCare Tax Bill, Democrats have been busy overturning parts of it they apparently missed reading about in newspapers. Surprises can occur when you don’t read a bill you vote for.

I confess there are commercials that make me want to nuke our remote, such as a recent pitch for a GPS system wherein a young boy sings soprano and lingers on the final notes of a mutilated Christmas carol by prolonging the name of a well-known company.

Incidentally, agencies who adapt Christmas carols by substituting banal verses to promote products or politics should be made to listen to a recording of ’99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall’ for 7 consecutive days—sort of like auditory waterboarding.

The Senate version of the CALM Act (S 2847, 111th Congress) was introduced by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.) and co-sponsored by Senators Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Tim Johnson (S.D.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Patty Murray (Wash.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), John D. Rockefeller IV (W.V.) and Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), all of whom are big government Democrats.

Just imagine the field day the U.S. Dept. of Justice and trial lawyers will have with CALM.

Don’t you feel safer now that Congress and the FCC have addressed this vital issue?

(Commentary by Kay B. Day/Dec. 13, 2012)

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Reader Comments (2)

How does this limit Freedom of Speech?

December 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJim Kress

By interfering with the rights of companies to broadcast. The level is up to them, not the government. It opens a door. And I still think people have the sense to turn the volume down or mute. Besides, it's a basically unenforceable law as written--the volume has to be aligned with the volume of the program the ads follow. Who will decide the decibels? I think if a law isn't vital to the general welfare, don't make the law.

December 21, 2012 | Registered CommenterKay B. Day, Editor
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