Service

Questions and Answers

Who controls the internet?

The KJM controls that the provisions regarding the protection of minors in the media are adhered to by the providers of telemedia services (e.g. internet content as well as teletext and teleshopping offers) on the basis of the provisions of the Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in the Media (JMStV).

As telemedia are not classified as broadcasting under the legal provisions, issues relating to consumer protection, data protection and obligatory imprint data are handled by other authorities entrusted with these tasks by the respective state.

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Are TV programmes controlled prior to transmission?

TV programmes are not controlled prior to their transmission by bodies established by Federal government or the German states as this would be equal to censorship which is prohibited under the German Constitution. The media authorities merely assess previews of TV broadcasts prior to their transmission; in this way, potential breaches of the legal provisions are to be prevented before the content in question is aired. In this process, all cinema films are checked for which the voluntary self-regulation organisation of the cinema industry (FSK) has granted an age rating. The media authorities check if the scheduling of the films is in line with the age rating. Films which the FSK has rated suitable for minors from the age of 16 years must thus not be shown before 22.00 hours. If a film is to be shown earlier than would be possible with the original age rating, the advance assessment helps to establish whether the FSK has changed the age rating or the KJM has granted an exception. As the FSF has been certified by the KJM as the voluntary self-regulation organisation of the commercial TV broadcasters, it can also grant exceptions to allow for the earlier transmission of a film.

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Whom do I contact regarding a programme complaint?

Alongside the continuous monitoring of programmes, the media authorities also deal with audience complaints concerning TV programmes with a view to the provisions for the protection of minors. If a programme appears to have violated the provisions of the Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in the Media (JMStV), the media authority in charge forwards the complaint to the KJM for assessment. The KJM then verifies whether the provisions of the JMStV have been violated. Complaints should be forwarded to kjm(at)die-medienanstalten.de stating the service or channel, the title of the programme as well as the date and time of transmission.

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Does the KJM also control public-service broadcasters?

The KJM is in charge of commercial broadcasters. Complaints regarding programmes of public-service TV or radio should be directed to the respective ARD service or ZDF; their internal supervisory bodies (“Rundfunkrat” or “ZDF-Fernsehrat” respectively) will deal with complaints in an internal procedure.

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Which sanctions can the KJM impose?

The sanctions imposed by the KJM will depend on the type of breach found which can range from impairment of development to the transmission of illegal content.

Concrete measures against broadcasters include the following:

  • complaint
  • restriction of transmission time
  • ban of transmission
  • Administrative offences procedure: start of a fining procedure
  • criminal offences: issue is handed over to the State Prosecutor

Concerning breaches of the provisions for the protection of minors in the media by telemedia services, the following sanctions can be taken:

  • complaint directed against the content provider
  • prohibition of distribution vis-à-vis the content provider
  • blocking requirement against host provider or access provider
  • blocking against host provider or access provider
  • administrative offences procedure: start of a fining procedure
  • criminal offences: issue is handed over to the state prosecutor

The measures decided by the KJM are implemented by the media authority in charge of the content provider.

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Which watersheds apply for broadcast transmissions?

TV broadcasters must ensure that children and adolescents can access content which will not affect their development into self-responsible and socially competent personalities and members of society. Providers can ensure by technical or other means that children or adolescents of the age group concerned cannot access such content or access it only with difficulty or can schedule the content in question in such a way that children or adolescents of the age groups concerned would not see it under normal circumstances.

Content considered to impair children or adolescents under the age of 16 must be shown only between 22.00 hours and 06.00 hours. For films rated 12, the wellbeing of younger children should be taken into consideration in scheduling such films as they may be shown round the clock.

Watersheds can on principle also be applied as a technical measure for the protection of minors in the media when distributing content in the internet. 

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May listed films be shown on TV?

Since 01 April 2003 when the Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Human Dignity and the Protection of Minors in Broadcasting and in Telemedia (JMStV) entered into force, the transmission of listed films on television has been generally banned. Such films may be shown on TV only in versions that have been edited and which the FSF has verified as not being identical to the listed version. Apart from films being deleted from the list of banned media (“index”), this is the only way in which films that have been put on the index can be shown on TV.

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Which rules apply for trailers?

Programme announcements or trailers provide detailed information on a programme including the date and time of their scheduling. For trailers the same watersheds concerning content apply as for the programmes to which they relate (see also “Which watersheds apply for broadcast transmissions?”).

To complement this requirement, the KJM has taken out an agreement with the FSF concerning the scheduling of trailers; it has been in force since July 2007. According to this agreement, the same rules apply for trailers as for the content to which they relate. If, for instance, content must not be shown before 22.00 hours, the corresponding trailer must also not be shown any earlier. The same applies for content not to be broadcast before 23.00 hours. Trailer relating to programmes shown during the main evening programme which starts at 20.00 hours, can on principle also be shown during the day. However, care has to be taken when devising the trailer that children under the age of 12 years are not affected in their wellbeing.

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Which rules apply for advertising?

There must not be any free access to advertising for listed content. Regarding advertising, the same restrictions apply as for the content itself as a result of its being listed by the Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons (BPjM).

Advertising must not cause any physical or moral harm to children and must also not directly exhort children or adolescents to buy or hire a product or service by exploiting their credulity and inexperience. These rules apply to any content distributed in broadcasting or telemedia services. In addition, advertising must not directly or indirectly encourage minors to persuade their parents or third parties to purchase an advertised good or service, nor may it exploit the special trust children or adolescents place in parents, teachers or other persons, nor must it show minors in dangerous situations without justified cause.

Advertising for tobacco products is prohibited in broadcasting and telemedia services. Advertising for alcoholic beverages must not be directed at children or adolescents, nor may it exert a special appeal through the way it is produced for children or adolescents, nor may it show minors consuming alcohol.

Advertising (also) aimed at children or adolescents or advertising using minors as actors must not harm the interests of minors or exploit their lack of experience. 

For teleshopping services, the advertising provisions apply accordingly. In addition, teleshopping must not encourage minors to take out purchase or rental or lease agreements for goods or services. The other provisions concerning content which are illegal or likely to impair the development of minors (Art. 4 and Art. 5 JMStV) also apply to advertising.

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How can I ensure that my website meets the requirements for the protection of minors?

The Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Human Dignity and the Protection of Minors in Broadcasting and Telemedia (JMStV) permits the distribution of pornographic, certain listed content and content suited to obviously seriously impair minors in the internet only if the provider ensures that access to such content is possible for adults only by installing a closed user group. To ensure the proper operation of the closed user groups, so-called age verification systems are used. That such content is provided in a manner that warrants the protection of minors is the sole responsibility of the provider of the content. Commercial providers of telemedia containing content which could impair the development of minors or expose minors to risks must nominate an appointee for the protection of minors.

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Will the KJM advise me regarding the provisions for the protection of minors when I design my website?

The German law on legal services prevents the KJM from providing legal advice to third parties. The KJM cannot therefore offer any comprehensive legal analysis of the legality of internet content, especially as a kind of “seal of approval”. The media authorities and the KJM take action against providers once they find that the provisions of the JMStV have been violated. Providers wishing for a legal assessment of their websites should therefore contact their appointee for the protection of minors or a legal expert.

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Which internet providers must nominate an appointee for the protection of minors?

Under Art. 7 JMStV, commercial providers of telemedia services which are accessible for the general public and which contain content which could impair the development or endanger minors must nominate an appointee for the protection of minors. Providers of telemedia services employing less that 50 members of staff or having less than ten million page views per annum on an monthly average can do without an appointee for the protection of minors provided that they join a self-regulatory organisation and require it to act on their behalf concerning the protection of minors. The appointee for the protection of minors acts as a contact person for the users of content and advises the provider regarding the protection of minors in the media. As far as the internet is concerned, the KJM has certified the “Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle Multimedia e.V. (FSM)”, "FSK.online" and "USK.online". In its interpretation of the current legislation, the KJM in particular specifies its view on the requirements for providers and the qualification of the appointee for the protection of minors.

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Which rules apply for e-commerce?

In Germany, the Protection of Young Persons Act (JuSchG) regulates most aspects of e-commerce or mail order services. The supreme youth authorities of the states are in charge of monitoring that the provisions are adhered to; they can also provide guidance on how to interpret the provisions of the JuSchG.

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Does the KJM recommend technical systems for the protection of minors in the internet?

So far, no systems have been presented to the KJM which meet the requirements for technical systems for the protection of minors as laid down in Art. 11 of the Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in the Media (JMStV). The KJM can endorse limited projects for testing new processes, provisions or technical measures in order to verify their actual performance with a view to the protection of minors prior to certification. However, none of the systems tested so far has met the requirements; the KJM could therefore not yet certify any such system.

In accordance with the system of the JMStV, technical systems for the protection of minors provide a privilege for internet providers: German providers of telemedia content which can impair the development of minors will be entitled to distribute such content without risking legal action by the KJM or the media authorities. Such content must not be confused with filtering systems offered as a protective measure to families, schools, internet cafes or youth centres. For such filtering systems, the KJM is not responsible nor can it exert any influence regarding their design or use. Youth protection programmes and filtering systems are often confused.

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Does the KJM keep a blacklist?

No, the KJM does not keep a list of terms or blacklist for filtering out problematic internet sites. Such lists are operated by the providers of filtering programmes. The Federal Department for Content Harmful to Young Persons (BPjM) operates a well-known list of such content (“index”).

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How are complaints concerning internet content handled?

As regards the internet, jugendschutz.net provides a first content assessment regarding potential violations of the provisions of the Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in the Media (JMStV). The KJM therefore generally forwards all issues concerning content distributed as telemedia services for analysis and any further measures to jugendschutz.net. Jugendschutz.net informs the responsible providers about potential breaches of the legal provisions and works towards critical content being taken down or changed voluntarily. If the provider ignores or refuses to act on the advice of jugendschutz.net, the KJM assesses the issue in question. Once it has taken a binding decision, the measures against the provider are implemented by the competent media authority.

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How can the KJM act in relation to providers based outside of Germany?

The KJM has only limited scope for action concerning content based outside of Germany and going beyond the scope of the Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in the Media (JMStV). Any information on breaches in content hosted outside of Germany is forwarded to the respective authority in charge of complaints for further action. In addition, jugendschutz.net which is linked to the KJM in its organisation tries to reach an alteration of the content with the respective host provider. 

In the light of this situation, apart from establishing age verification systems and technical measures, solutions in the form of technical systems for the protection of minors and filtering systems must be promoted which can be installed by consumers independently. Listed content which is offered by providers established outside of Germany and which is distributed unchanged and impacts on the protection of minors, is forwarded by the BPjM as a so-called “BPjM module” in encrypted form to the operators of filtering programmes so that the provisions of the protection of minors can be fulfilled. The module in the filtering programmes ensures that listed internet sites some of which contain absolutely illegal content as specified in Art. 4 (1) JMStV cannot be accessed via computers in which the filtering software has been installed.

In order to increase the effectiveness of the list of the BPjM for use in filtering software or technical systems for the protection of minors, the list must be continually updated. The fact that minors can access illegal content or content impairing their development through websites hosted outside of Germany, does not lessen the importance of the work which is done in Germany regarding the protection of minors. The fact that minors can access unregulated content hosted outside of Germany must not result in a reduction of the requirements imposed for the area for which the German provisions concerning the protection of minors apply.

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