What is the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act and what is Viamedia’s approach to this issue?
On Sept. 30th, 2010 the Senate passed legislation requiring the FCC to regulate the volume of TV commercials.
The Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act of 2009 (S. 2847), addresses one of the most frequent consumer complaints received at the FCC regarding television: the loudness of commercials.
The CALM Act addresses the difference between the loudness of commercials and programming.
Digital television has brought many opportunities as well as challenges to the Advertising Insertion business. One of the challenges that most affects the end user is the piercing highs and non audible lows of the audio. Audio has long been an issue for digital television; not only from program to program, but from program to embedded or inserted commercial. It is critical for the overall satisfaction of the end user and subscriber retention for the MSO that content providers work to correct audio differences within their own programming – including their national advertisers. Viamedia has proactively addressed this issue for our partners and end users on the local spot ad insertion side of the puzzle.
What Exactly Does This Mean?
In most digital set top boxes or digital televisions there is an audio decoder chipset that detects the AC-3 metadata information. The AC-3 metadata information is the underlying audio information relative to the content being provided. Viamedia’s final commercial product is delivered with matching AC-3 audio and dialnorms. This insures that the decoder plays them at correct and acceptable levels.
For troubleshooting, it is helpful for the MSO to have access to a Dolby LM100 to monitor the audio levels from a network as it comes in. This will help identify any changes that should be made by the content provider. Additionally, any network that is encoded by the MSO should be checked to make sure the dialnorm level is adjusted appropriately on the encoder (they generally come with a default value of -27).
To be in compliance with regulatory standards, and protect the customer experience with our advertising products, Viamedia has taken the following steps to ensure commercial audio is correct:
• During the encoding process, all spots are measured against a Dolby LM100 to make certain the levels do not exceed relative loudness of -31 db (decibels/ volume).
• All spots are processed via a Dolby DP600. This device measures the relative loudness and dialnorm (speech level) of every spot and calibrates the audio dynamically to ensure the levels match industry standard.
Viamedia has put in place the Dolby audio solution and the associated processes to assure that all our commercial spots are in the best format possible to assist the MSO in customer retention and satisfaction.
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