Since new rules went into effect, why are TV commercials still so loud?

As of this year, didn't the FCC mandate that all TV commercials can no longer be louder than the regular programming? It sure seems to me that a lot of commercials still come on louder than the programs. My guess is that the various providers/advertisers are ignoring the mandate to some extent due to lack of enforcement and just to see what they can get away with.

— Gary S., Medford

A federal law that commercials have the same average volume as programs they accompany went into effect on Dec. 13, 2012.

The Federal Communications Commission fielded more than 20,000 complaints about the loudness of commercials from December 2012 to December 2013 — showing that, like you, Gary, many viewers still believe commercials are too loud.

The FCC reports the number of complaints is falling. It's not clear whether that's because of better compliance with the law, or because of a drop-off in publicity about viewers' ability to file complaints about overly loud commercials.

The law doesn't establish an absolute cap on commercial volume. Instead, the loudness of commercials must be the same as the average volume of programs.

"We hope and expect that compliance with this practice will significantly reduce the problem of loud commercials for consumers," the FCC states.

The FCC is relying on consumer complaints to monitor compliance and recommends that you file a complaint electronically using an online complaint form at

Complaints can also be faxed to 1-866-418-0232 or mailed to Federal Communications Commission, Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau, Consumer Inquiries & Complaints Division, 445 12th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20554.

You must report whether you saw the commercial on pay television (such as cable or satellite) or via broadcast television using an antenna; the name of the advertiser or product in the commercial; the date and time it aired; the program during which it aired and the television channel, including the channel number and its name, such as CNN or HBO.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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