Well, that didn’t take long. Barely a week after the release of the CALM Act Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, that NPRM has been published in the Federal Register. As a result, we now have comment/reply comment deadlines to pass along. Mark your calendars: comments are due July 5, 2011, and reply comments are due July 18.
As we noted in our post describing the NPRM, it’s probably best not to expect any extensions of these deadlines. Despite the fact that it took five months to crank out the NPRM, the Commission’s now in hurry-up mode, presumably because of the deadline that Congress imposed on the Commission. Under the CALM Act, the FCC has until mid-December to wrap the proceeding up and adopt new rules intended to put the kibosh on loud commercials. That means that, as of July 18 (the close of the reply comment period), the Commission will have a scant five months to get the job done. The pressure’s on.
TV folks would do well to get familiar with the NPRM’s proposals sooner rather than later. The new rules will affect all commercial TV broadcasters as well as MVPD operators, and it will affect them relatively soon (Congress specified that that new rules will have to be effective one year after the Commission adopts them, although individual waivers may be available).
Bear in mind, too, that the CALM Act’s proponents may have oversold the likely effects of the new law. (One example: Commissioner Copps’s bold assertion that “relief is on the way for viewers who have been complaining for nearly 50 years about loud commercials”.) As a result, a lot of the Public At Large may end up harboring the somewhat unrealistic notion that every time they hear something on TV that they think is too loud, they can get it corrected with a quick email to the FCC. The more that notion gains currency, the more complaints the Commission, and the industry, can expect to receive. But in view of the largely subjective nature of “loudness”, the new rules may not meet the happy expectations that are being loaded onto them. When the rules finally take effect, it will not be surprising if the public experiences large measures of confusion, frustration and, in the end, disappointment. We shall see.