An On Demand issue, and the CALM Act

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Entertainment,TV,Associated Press

Q We've talked in the past about CBS Sunday night screw-ups with "The Good Wife" and "The Mentalist." Since I have other things to watch and record in the 9-to-11 p.m. slot, I can't record them. Not a problem for "The Good Wife"; it's available On Demand. But I am really annoyed that "The Mentalist" isn't even showing the current season via On Demand. OK, I vented. Where can I turn to get a remedy? Who controls what's shown On Demand? CBS? Comcast? - Steven, McMurray, Pa.

A CBS and Comcast have an agreement for carriage of shows via Comcast On Demand, but I believe CBS dictates which shows it carries on that platform.

It is possible to catch full episodes of "The Mentalist" at cbs.com, according to the show's publicist.

Q The CALM Act goes into effect soon. Do you think that the viewers will hear a difference? In other words, will we really hear the programming and commercials at the same volume? In fact, will the volume be the same on all channels, or will we still have to adjust the volume when switching around? - Paul, 66, West Mifflin, Pa.

A Commercial viewing is going the way of the dinosaur as more viewers record programs on DVRs and fast-forward through commercials during playback, which makes the CALM Act, designed to make commercial and program sound levels equal, a bit late to the party.

Honestly, I only ever stumble upon commercials anymore when my trigger finger messes up the timing during DVR playback. But when that does happen, the booming commercial sound is sometimes obviously louder.

As far as what life with the CALM Act in place on Dec. 13 will be like, I think we'll just have to wait to see. In theory, the sound levels should be the same across channels, based on this item from the Federal Communications Commission's website: "The ATSC A/85 RP is a set of methods to measure and control the audio loudness of digital programming, including commercials. This standard can be used by all broadcast television stations and pay TV providers."

But my guess is that, in practice, there is likely to be some variation noticeable when flipping among channels.

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