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Algorithms will start hunting down extra-loud TV commercials next year

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Some TV commercials are about to get even quieter. Back in 2011, Congress passed a law requiring that commercials aren't broadcast any louder than the TV shows airing around them, and now the FCC is making some minor adjustments that'll help to better enforce that. Since the beginning of the rule's enforcement in late 2012, a commercials' loudness has been determined by its average volume — but beginning next June, that'll change. A new algorithm will ignore silent or particularly quiet parts of a commercial that might be used to balance out particularly loud parts elsewhere.

"[The new algorithm] is intended to more accurately reflect consumer perceptions in situations in which the commercial contains both very loud and very quiet passages," the FCC writes in a Federal Register filing. "In this circumstance, the new algorithm would result in a greater perceived loudness measurement than the old algorithm, therefore requiring the commercial to be adjusted." This likely won't have as big of an effect as the rule did in the first place, but it will allow the FCC to crack down on advertisers who might cleverly attempt to skirt it — something that the commission believes Congress doesn't want to see.