AVMSD - Protection of minors
Protection of minors
The AVMS Directive's general approach, a system of graduated regulation, applies also to the protection of minors. The less control a viewer has and the more harmful a specific content could be the more restrictions apply.
Overview of graduated regulation
|Linear (TV) services||Non-linear
|Content which might seriously impair minors must …||… not be included in
any programme (total ban)
|… only be made available in such a way that ensures that minors will not normally hear or see such on-demand audiovisual media services|
|Content which is likely to impair minors must …||… be ensured, by selecting the time of the broadcast or by any technical measure (e.g. encryption), that minors in the area of transmission will not normally hear or see such broadcasts.||No restrictions|
The Directive takes into account that the protection of minors has always to be balanced with other important values of a democratic society, for instance freedom of expression.
In addition, protection of minors cannot work without parental responsibility.
Protection of minors in television broadcasting (Article 27)
Programmes which “might seriously impair” the development of minors are prohibited (i.e. pornography or gratuitous violence). Those which might simply be “harmful” to minors can only be transmitted when it is ensured - by selecting the time of the broadcast or by any technical measure (e.g. encryption) - that minors will not normally hear or see them. In addition to that, when such programmes are not encrypted, they must be preceded by an acoustic warning or made clearly identifiable throughout their duration by means of a visual symbol.
The Directive obliged the Commission to submit a study of the advantages and
disadvantages of other measures to facilitate parents' control of broadcasts
watched by their children (filters, rating systems, etc.).
See the 1999 Commission Communication on the Study on Parental Control of Television Broadcasting and the European Parliament resolution on the Commission communication "Study on Parental Control of Television Broadcasting" (COM(1999) 371- C5-0324/1999).
The Audiovisual Media Services Directive is complemented by the 1998 and 2006 Recommendations on the protection of minors and human dignity. The 1998 Recommendation was the first legal instrument concerning the content of online audiovisual and information services.
Protection of minors in on-demand services (Article 12)
Programmes which "might seriously impair" the development of minors are allowed in on-demand services, but they may only be made available in such a way that minors will not normally hear or see them. This could be done by the use of PIN codes or other, more sophisticated age verification systems. There are no restrictions for programmes which might simply be "harmful".
How to complain about a programme ?
The European Commission does not monitor programmes on an individual basis but rather the performance of Member States in general. Therefore, the media regulator(s) of the Member State having jurisdiction is competent for following up individual complaints. If it is not clear which Member State has jurisdiction or a citizen does not speak the language of the competent Member State, she or he may also contact the media regulator of her/ his own Member State directly. Regulators are obliged to cooperate one with each other, especially in trans-border cases.
European Audiovisual Observatory – MAVISE – to find out about a provider's jurisdiction
Member States shall take appropriate measures to ensure that on-demand audiovisual media services provided by media service providers under their jurisdiction which might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of minors are only made available in such a way as to ensure that minors will not normally hear or see such on-demand audiovisual media services.
1. Member States shall take appropriate measures to ensure that television broadcasts by broadcasters under their jurisdiction do not include any programmes which might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of minors, in particular programmes that involve pornography or gratuitous violence.
2. The measures provided for in paragraph 1 shall also extend to other programmes which are likely to impair the physical, mental or moral development of minors, except where it is ensured, by selecting the time of the broadcast or by any technical measure, that minors in the area of transmission will not normally hear or see such broadcasts.
3. In addition, when such programmes are broadcast in unencoded form Member States shall ensure that they are preceded by an acoustic warning or are identified by the presence of a visual symbol throughout their duration.