It’s unanimous! On September 29, the Senate unanimously passed S. 2847, the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act (a/k/a “CALM Act”), the bill intended to force video providers to take steps to assure that commercials (and other “interstitials”) are not annoyingly louder than the programming which they interrupt.  That leaves just two steps to go in the legislative process before the awesome power of the federal government puts its regulatory finger to its regulatory lips and issues a regulatory “Shhhhhh”.

We’ve written about the CALM Act before, so there’s no need to re-visit the story up to this point. Since our last report, the Senate version of the bill (the House side’s version is dubbed H.R. 1084) was amended ever so slightly and, as amended, given the overwhelming Senatorial thumbs up. The amendment, tacked on at the last minute, provides:

Compliance.–Any broadcast television operator, cable operator, or other multichannel video programming distributor that installs, utilizes, and maintains in a commercially reasonable manner the equipment and associated software in compliance with the regulations issued by the Federal Communications Commission in accordance with subsection (a) shall be deemed to be in compliance with such regulations.

That’s presumably intended to give video providers some assurance that, as long as they install, utilize and maintain the required gear, they’ll be deemed street legal, regardless of any individual viewer complaints that might roll in.

The only hitch here is that the version of the CALM Act that the House passed didn’t happen to include an equivalent amendment. That means that the next step in the March To Enactment is for the House and the Senate to get together to work out the differences between the two bills. Once that’s done – and at this point there seems little doubt that that will get done – it’s on to the White House for one final signature and, bingo – It’s The Law. At that point there will still be some time before the new obligations kick in, since the FCC will have one year to follow up with the nitty-gritty details, like adopting new rules to conform to Congress’s will.

We’ll report back as developments warrant – check back here for updates.