Italian TV ads can't be louder than shows

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ROME -- Italy's communications regulator on Friday passed a new set of rules that require television commercials be aired at the same volume as general programming, ending months of wrangling on the subject, by placing the responsibility for compliance on the broadcaster.

Advertisers and broadcasters said in the past that technical limitations and bureaucratic issues have prevented them from following up on years of consumer complaints. Each side claimed the responsibility belonged to the other.

But the new rules hold the broadcaster responsible for any changes in broadcast volume, making rule breakers liable for fines up to the amount paid for the ad.

"There have been rules and requests on this subject before, but this one finally has teeth," a spokesman for the authority said in a brief phone interview.

Consumer groups in Italy have long complained that broadcasters or advertisers raised the volume during ad segments to make the public notice them more.

A spokesman for state broadcaster RAI would not comment on the topic when contacted, saying only that the broadcaster always followed the law. The communications office for Mediaset, the country's largest private broadcaster, did not return calls seeking comment.

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