Keep Calm and Legislate: CALM Act Begins

13 Dec

It has taken a few years but the CALM () Act will begin to be enforcable today. The idea behind the law is to limit the louder volume of TV commercials from the TV show which they air around. As an avid TV viewer I can appreciate this bit of peace and calm. Parents with younger children who go to bed before they do will likely also welcome the news.

However, as I began to enjoy the idea of a more peaceful viewing experience thanks to this new law, my mind began to think back a few decades ago. I could have sworn this technology was tried on the open market before. After doing some searches on the web, I found out I wasn’t just making the idea up in my head.

The technology my mind was recalling was from 1992 and promoted by Magnavox. It was known at the time as SmartSound. Below is a link the commercial at the time illustrating the technology.

Magnavox SmartSound Commercial

I never owned a TV with this technology but if I had, and it worked as advertised, I don’t know if I would have ever thrown it out. The website eHow gives this brief summary of how SmartSound worked:

Smart Sound, introduced by Magnavox in 1992 on its television sets, is designed to reduce sudden extreme changes in volume, namely the sound of TV commercials relative to the sound of the TV shows they follow. Magnavox refers to Smart Sound as “automatic volume control” to describe the feature’s ability to monitor the sound level of TV shows and limit how much louder the subsequent commercials will play.

So why didn’t more companies pick up and run with this? That is a question we might never know. But what is interesting is it wasn’t then, it hasn’t resurfaced almost 20 years later as a feature in TV’s and now we have a federal law requiring TV stations to do the same thing the free market rejected. With the way media consuption is headed, to a more on demand, pay to view (either per viewing or subscription) it will be interesting to see how long this law will be needed after all.

Source –
Magnavox SmartSound – eHow

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One Response to “Keep Calm and Legislate: CALM Act Begins”

  1. john teevee June 15, 2014 at 4:49 am #

    I had one of these TVs in the 90s. It was not perfect, but it was still so much better than normal. I’d venture that even with on demand entertainment, Smart Sound tech could work quite well to counteract the obnoxious tendency Hollywood films have of playing music at twice the volume of dialogue. It’s always: cut to action piece music plays at 2x volume. Or even the intro music for a TV show will be screamingly loud compared to anything a person might say. Legislation will never touch that.

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