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Informer: Some stations given financial hardship waivers

Last Modified: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 10:46 PM

By Andrew Perzo / American Press

The television stations were supposed to reduce their volume in their commercials on Jan. 1, and they still haven’t reduced them. Why not?

Without knowing which broadcasters the reader is referring to, The Informer can’t offer a specific answer. But it can offer some general information.

The Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation, or CALM, Act — signed into law in December 2010 — required the Federal Communications Commission to draft regulations to set standards on uniform loudness in TV commercials.

Those regulations, adopted 12 months later, took effect on Dec. 13, 2012. But the law gave the FCC authority to grant one-year waivers — renewable for a second year — to any station “that demonstrates that obtaining the equipment to comply with the regulation ... would result in financial hardship.”

A large station must meet a four-part test to receive a waiver: It must provide “evidence of its financial condition”; “a cost estimate for obtaining the necessary equipment”; “a detailed statement explaining why its financial condition justifies postponing compliance”; and “an estimate of how long it will take to comply, along with supporting information.”

For small stations, which the agency said “may find it particularly burdensome” to comply with the rules by the time they take effect, the FCC adopted “a more streamlined financial hardship waiver approach.”

The rules define a small station as one that earns “no more than $14.0 million in annual receipts or that is located in television markets 150 to 210.” Lake Charles is ranked 175 on the TV market list, which is compiled by Nielsen.

The only Lake Charles station that requested a waiver, according to FCC records, was National Communications Inc., owner of Fox affiliate KVHP-TV, which applied based on the income criterion.

“The gross annual revenues of National Communications, Inc are less than $14.0 Million, thus qualifying KVHP as a small broadcast station,” reads a waiver request submitted by Lester Langley Jr., the company’s chief financial officer.

“The equipment proposed to be acquired consists of an AERO.air (10 Channels: 5.1 DTV via SDI, Plus +2+2 or two AES audio pairs with additional options.”

According to the regulations, small stations “may consider the waiver granted when they file this information online and receive an automatic ‘acknowledgement of request.’ ”

Langley told The Informer on Tuesday that the FCC had granted KVHP’s request. He said the station is working to get the equipment it needs and should have it installed “fairly quickly.”

KPLC-TV Vice President and General Manager Jim Serra said his station, too, is in compliance with CALM Act regulations.

“We monitor the loudness of our signal consistently throughout the day. These levels are electronically logged as well,” Serra wrote in an email.

“This log is checked daily and is retained should there be any subsequent question. Any content we receive which does not meet the Federally mandated requirements is corrected. We endeavor to maintain audio loudness levels that meet the letter and spirit of the law.”

Complaint procedure

The FCC allows people to file complaints online, at www.fcc.gov/complaints, or by mail or fax.

The address is Federal Communications Commission, Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau, Consumer Inquiries & Complaints Division, 445 12th St., SW, Washington, DC 20554. The fax number is 866-418-0232.

Complaints should include the following information, as listed on the FCC’s website:

State if you watched the commercial on pay TV (such as on cable or satellite) or if you watched it on a broadcast television station using an antenna.

The name of the advertiser or product promoted in the commercial.

The date you saw the commercial.

The time you saw the commercial.

The name of the TV program during which you saw the commercial.

State which TV station (by call sign and/or channel number and the station’s community) or pay TV provider (with its system location) transmitted the commercial.

If you watched the commercial on pay TV, the channel number on which you saw it and the cable programmer or network, such as CNN or HBO.

For more information, call the FCC at 888-CALL-FCC or contact a local television station.

Online: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2012/07/09.

• • •

The Informer answers questions from readers each Sunday, Monday and Wednesday. It is researched and written by Andrew Perzo, an American Press staff writer. To ask a question, call 494-4098, press 5 and leave voice mail, or email informer@americanpress.com

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