Navigating the Volume Divide: FCC Regulations and the Streaming Loophole

Explore the regulatory divide in broadcast and streaming TV volume levels in our latest blog. Delve into the FCC’s CALM Act’s effectiveness on traditional TV and how streaming services like YouTube TV exploit loopholes, leading to higher ad volumes. Understand the challenges of regulating these platforms and the potential for future comprehensive regulations. Stay informed about the evolving landscape of digital broadcasting and its impact on viewer experience

In the realm of broadcast television, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) plays a crucial role in regulating various aspects, including the volume of commercials. However, with the advent of streaming services like YouTube TV, a new challenge has emerged: these platforms often do not adhere to the same volume regulations, leading to a significant disparity in user experience.

The FCC’s Role in Broadcast TV

The CALM Act

The Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act, enacted by the FCC, addresses a longstanding viewer complaint: the jarring increase in volume during commercial breaks. This act requires TV stations, cable operators, and satellite TV providers to ensure that commercials are broadcast at a consistent volume level with that of regular programming.

Effectiveness on Traditional Broadcasting

Since its implementation, the CALM Act has been effective in enhancing viewer comfort by standardizing volume levels. This regulation reflects the FCC’s commitment to maintaining a level of uniformity and quality in traditional broadcasting.

The Streaming Service Loophole

Different Regulations

Streaming services, including YouTube TV, operate in a different category than traditional broadcast television. These services are not subject to the same stringent FCC regulations, which has created a loophole when it comes to commercial volume control.

Higher Volume on Streaming Platforms

Many users have noticed that the volume of commercials on streaming platforms is noticeably higher than the content they watch. This discrepancy can be attributed to the absence of regulations like the CALM Act in the streaming domain. Streaming services are exploiting this regulatory gap, leading to an inconsistent and often jarring user experience.

Why the Loophole Exists

Categorization Differences

The primary reason for this loophole is the way streaming services are categorized compared to traditional broadcast TV. Streaming is considered a newer, internet-based technology and, as such, falls outside the purview of certain broadcast-specific regulations.

Challenges in Regulation

Regulating streaming services like YouTube TV poses unique challenges. The internet’s global nature and the rapid evolution of streaming technologies make it difficult for regulations like the CALM Act to be uniformly applied or enforced.

Consumer Response and Future Implications

Viewer Discomfort

The higher volume of ads on streaming platforms has not gone unnoticed by consumers, many of whom find it disruptive and uncomfortable. This has led to calls for more comprehensive regulations that encompass streaming services.

Potential for New Regulations

There is a growing dialogue about updating and expanding regulations to include streaming platforms. Such changes would ensure a consistent viewing experience across all platforms, maintaining the spirit of the CALM Act in the digital age.


The volume discrepancy between traditional broadcast TV and streaming services highlights a significant regulatory gap. While the FCC has effectively regulated broadcast TV through the CALM Act, streaming services operate largely unchecked in this aspect. Bridging this gap requires a reevaluation of current regulations and a more inclusive approach that accounts for the evolving landscape of digital broadcasting. As streaming continues to grow, it’s essential for regulatory bodies to adapt, ensuring a balanced and comfortable viewing experience for all.

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