New Rules for the Protection of Minors in the Provision of Media Services

New Rules for the Protection of Minors in the Provision of Media Services

June 26, 2024

On May 18, 2024, the Rulebook on the Protection of the Rights of Minors in the Provision of Media Services (“Rulebook on Minors“) came into force, adopted in accordance with the provisions of the Law on Electronic Media.

The Regulatory Authority for Electronic Media (“REM“) recently passed a set of regulations regarding the provision of media services, which came into force in May 2024. The new Rulebook on Conditions and Criteria for Issuing a License for the Provision of Media Services (“Rulebook on Licenses“) has drawn particular attention.

Unlike the previously applicable rulebook, the Rulebook on Licenses does not prescribe the obligation for media service providers to ensure the broadcasting of so-called quality programs (scientific-educational, cultural-artistic, documentary, or children’s programs, or programs for minors), which was so far required to constitute at least 20% of the total annual broadcast program.

Media service providers now have the freedom to independently determine which various media content to provide to viewers and in what percentage. Media content considered informational programs, documentary programs, scientific-educational programs, cultural-artistic programs, entertainment programs, reality shows, children’s programs, programs for minors, religious programs, films and series, music programs, sports programs, and games.

In light of the aforementioned, although it can not regulate the content of programs that the provider will make available, the Rulebook on Minors sets clear criteria and conditions under which certain program content can be broadcast. It thoroughly regulates the manner of fulfilling the obligations of providers regarding the publication of program content that may harm the physical, mental, or moral development of minors, with particular attention to the participation of minors in programs and the publication of information directly or indirectly related to minors.

General Obligations of Media Service Providers

The provider is obliged to clearly announce, with an appropriate verbal or textual warning immediately before broadcasting, programme content that may harm the development of minors.

While broadcasting unsuitable programme content for minors, the program must contain a label in the form of a green circle with a number indicating the age from which the program is considered acceptable. The content is differentiated as unsuitable for minors younger than 12, 15, or 18 years.

Regarding the manner of publishing programme content that may seriously harm the development of minors, there is a ban on the broadcast of pornography, brutal violence, and other program content that may seriously harm the development of minors.

Criteria for Categorizing Programme Content

Potentially harmful content is specifically that which contains:

  • Violence and its consequences;
  • Sexual violence;
  • Frightening scenes;
  • Smoking and the abuse of drugs, alcohol, and other harmful substances.

Moreover, specific categories of programme content encompass sports, reality shows, and material concerning suicide.

In this context, in the case of live broadcasting of reality show content, the provider is obliged to immediately stop broadcasting such content if there is an escalation of violence or indecent behavior undertaken to insult, provided that it cannot otherwise avoid displaying such behavior (e.g., muting, changing the frame, etc.).

Moreover, if during the broadcasting of a sports event there is a physical altercation among the audience or participants, disturbances, or unauthorized entry onto the field, the provider may show it only if it disrupts the flow of the event (e.g., temporary interruption of the match) and only to the extent necessary to inform the viewer about the reasons affecting the regular course of the event. An exception is provided for the broadcast of such content in news programs.

Finally, children’s programs or content for minors younger than 12 years, as well as content for minors older than 12 years, must be suitable for them.

Accordingly, the broadcast of such content must not provide information that could encourage behavior affecting the physical, mental, emotional, or other integrity (especially not showing minors in dangerous situations, such as climbing unsecured objects, entering unknown premises, talking to strangers, etc., except when it is a health and safety warning).

The rulebook also covers the participation of particularly vulnerable minors in programs, consent to participate in specific programs, and the prohibition of participation in certain program content.

This regulatory framework brings significant changes and sets strict criteria for broadcasting program content that may harm minors, aiming to ensure the safety and protection of young viewers.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you need further information, please feel free to contact us.