Age ratings are prescribed by law
Age ratings for cinema showings and material carrier media such as films and computer games on DVD or CD are set out in the German Protection of Young Persons Act (Jugendschutzgesetz: JuSchG). For broadcasting and telemedia (Internet), they can be found in the German Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in the Media (Jugendmedienschutz-Staatsvertrag: JMStV).
The age brackets are as follows:
- No age restriction
- Aged 6 and over
- Aged 12 and over
- Aged 16 and over
- Not suitable for persons aged under 18
It is important to note that these classifications do not constitute age recommendations, merely evaluations of potential risks.
Age ratings for television
Because of their prominence and widespread acceptance, age ratings may be said to be “common currency”, offering parents a uniform guide to youth media protection. The FSF therefore has adopted the age brackets put forward in the Protection of Young Persons Act (JuSchG) and incorporated them into their examination Rules (PrO-FSF). The FSF examining board awards these age ratings at the same time as deciding on transmission times.
The transmission time is used to regulate youth media protection in relation to the various brackets. The relevant provisions are outlined in the German Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in the Media (JMStV).
A provider must take care to ensure that “content suited to impairing the development of children or adolescents into self-dependent and socially competent personalities” is scheduled in such a way that “children or adolescents of the relevant age groups do not normally consume such content” (Sect. 5 Para. 1 JMStV). Transmission during the evening aims to make it difficult for children or adolescents to gain access to certain types of content.
|Age bracket||Time schedule|
suitable for 12 years and above („ab 12 Jahren“): 8.00 p.m. – 6.00 a.m. Cinema films classified with „12“ may be shown during the daytime, if they are not considered harmful to younger children
suitable for 16 years and above („ab 16 Jahren“): 10 p.m. – 6.00 a.m.
suitable only for adults („ab 18 Jahren“): 11 p.m. – 6.00 a.m.
Movies or series that are already classified by the Voluntary Self-regulation of Film Industry (FSK), are linked to these time schedules as well; however broadcasters can apply for an exemption and FSF examination boards can issue a special license. In these cases cuts are often made by the channels before the films are submitted to the FSF.
Age ratings on the Internet
On the internet, content liable to impair development may be allocated an age classification by its provider (e.g. via the age classification system of the FSM). Such classifications are evaluated on the computers of persons using youth protection programs and filtered out, depending on the setting. This ensures that such content is not consumed by children and adolescents. However, it also presupposes that the provider website classifies its content and that parents or guardians install the relevant youth protection programs.