Anyone offering media content to the public – be it TV programmes, films, computer games or Internet content – must adhere to certain youth protection provisions.
Are you a provider of TV programmes or comparable telemedia content?
This page will tell you what provisions you need to observe and how we can help you do so.
The obligations of media providers
In Germany, commercial media providers are under an obligation to appoint Youth Protection Officers. Youth Protection Officers act as an interface between the provider, the user and the media authorities. Under certain conditions, it is possible for a provider to transfer the duties pertaining to Youth Protection Officers to a self-regulation institution like the German Association for Voluntary Self-Regulation of Television (FSF) or the German Association for Voluntary Self-Regulation of Digital Media Service Providers (FSM).
The German Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in the Media (JMStV) differentiates between three types of content:
Programmes categorised as illegal may not be distributed at all (Sect. 4 Para. 1 JMStV).
Content illegal for minors
Such content is prohibited, both on free TV and on pay TV. It may be made available on the Internet in closed user groups for adults. To ensure this, providers must install age verification systems (Sect. 4 Para. 2 JMStV), such as the service provided by the German Association for Voluntary Self-Regulation of Digital Media Service Providers (FSM) at altersklassifizierung.de/en.
Content that impairs development
Media content capable of impairing the development of adolescents into self-dependent and socially competent personalities may only be disseminated in such a way that children and adolescents within the relevant age bracket will not usually consume it (Sect. 5 JMStV) (see following paragraph).
Measures for content that impairs development
To prevent children and adolescents consuming content that could impair their development, the provider must:
- Choose a transmission time that corresponds to the content’s age rating
- Use technical means to label that content, thereby enabling any youth protection program to distinguish it and block it if appropriate
Any provider failing to adhere to the legal provisions runs the risk of incurring severe penalties, ranging from fines to imprisonment.
The benefits of self-regulation
Providers who join a self-regulation institution and abide by its precepts enjoy several advantages. Anyone who has a programme evaluated by the FSF prior to transmission and who observes the corresponding age rating when disseminating it gains the maximum possible protection from sanctions by the authorities. Fines of up to 500,000 euros can be avoided in this way.
Services offered by the FSF
The FSF evaluates audiovisual products with regard to youth protection considerations and awards age ratings. These decisions have what is known as a “privilege” effect – that is to say, they confer protection against sanctions by the media authorities.
Processing material in accordance with youth protection considerations
Experts and experienced examiners will process your products with regard to youth protection considerations in order to ensure, in the event of borderline cases, that it is possible to broadcast them at a specific transmission time or to disseminate them in line with the desired age rating.
The reasons for the decisions of the FSF examiners are set out in detailed evaluations. If required, the FSF can also produce youth protection evaluations for new formats or on the basis of scripts.
Since 1993 the FSF has been a reliable source of information for member companies whenever they have questions relating to youth protection. The FSF is also available to members and their Youth Protection Officers for expert advice concerning the purchase, production and development of programmes.
- The appropriate procedure for your product, to ensure legally compliant dissemination
- Youth protection solutions for the various distribution channels – from streaming, free-to-air or video-on-demand content, pay TV and free TV to exploitation on DVD
- Content currently in production that is potentially relevant to youth protection
Service and information
The FSF offers its members a wide-ranging service package.
- A database containing over 30,000 youth protection evaluations, allowing members to check whether their product already has an age classification; this can potentially save them the effort, time and expense of having it examined afresh
- A contact point for audience complaints, responding expertly to concerns and queries relating to youth protection
- Concise youth protection information concerning programmes that have been examined and given age labels for release
- Media education projects and materials
- An extensive range of online content (fsf.de, blog.fsf.de, tvdiskurs.de)