Society’s approach to youth media protection and media education is linked to various expectations, positions, conventions, regulations and laws.
We put togehter the basics, details and the current state of knowledge.

Who is who

Numerous institutions, organisations and supervisory bodies are responsible for or involved in the protection of minors in Germany. We provide an overview of the most important organs.

Public authorities

The 14 state media authorities in Germany are responsible for the approval, supervision, building up and further development of private radio and television in Germany and for supervision in the telemedia sector, in particular the Internet. For the coordination and fine-tuning of basic issues extending across state borders, the media authorities collaborate in a variety of committees and commissions. Since 16 March 2011, these collective bodies and committees of the state media authorities have been operating under the name “die medienanstalten” (“the media authorities”).

The Commission for the Protection of Minors in the Media is a central authority responsible for the implementation of the JMStV in broadcasting and telemedia. The KJM is made up of 12 members: six delegated from among the directors of the state media authorities, four from the supreme state authorities responsible for youth protection and two from the supreme federal authorities responsible for the same area.

jugendschutz.net is an institution operating across state borders and set up as a joint authority by the Youth Ministers of all the federal states. In organisational terms, it is linked to the German Commission for the Protection of Minors in the Media (KJM). jugendschutz.net is responsible for the checking of Internet content offers. If it finds any breaches of the provisions of the JMStV while carrying out these checks, it informs the KJM and, if necessary, the responsible self-regulation organisation.

Self-regulation organitations

The German Association for Voluntary Self-Regulation of Digital Media Service Providers (FSM e. V.) is a non-profit registered association concerned with the protection of young people in online media. The FSM has been an officially recognised voluntary self-regulation association since 2005 and as such is part of the regulated self-regulation system that operates in Germany.

The Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle Fernsehen (Voluntary Self-Regulation of Television, FSF) is an association whose members are among Germany’s largest commercial television broadcasters. Providers submit their programming to the FSF examining boards for review. Based on the youth media provisions in force in Germany, independent examiners decide at what time a particular programme may be broadcast and what content is not admissible.

The Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle der Filmwirtschaft (Voluntary Self-Regulation of the Film Industry, FSK) is responsible for carrying out age rating checks for films, videocassettes, DVDs and similar picture carriers that it is planned to present or distribute. The age ratings decided by the FSK govern the presence of children and adolescents at public presentations and whether or not pictures carriers may be released to the relevant age group. The FSK has also been recognised under the German Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in the Media (JMStV) since September 2012.

Together with the supreme state youth authorities, the USK is responsible for the age labelling of computer games. These are examined with a view to their approval for specific age groups. Age ratings for computer games have been required by law since 1 April 2004, which means they must have an age label before they can be distributed. In addition to recognition under the Germany Protection of Young Persons Act (JuSchG) for this form of carrier medium, the USK has also been recognised under the German Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in the Media (JMStV) since September 2011.

The German Press Council is the voluntary self-regulation organisation of the print media. The Council handles complaints about editorial publications and the behaviour of journalists on the basis of a press code developed itself and containing the basic principles of journalism and guidelines for editorial work.

The German Advertising Council is an industry body founded by the Zentralverband der Deutschen Werbewirtschaft e. V. (German Advertising Federation, ZAW). It settles conflicts between advertising companies and members of the general population with complaints by passing valid criticisms on to the relevant companies, which must then change or discontinue the advertising in question.

The Centre for Protection against Unfair Competition is an association with decades of experience under its belt. It was founded as a self-regulation organisation for the business community to ensure fair competition. As a cross-sector association of companies and industry organisations, the Centre promotes commercial interests throughout Germany, dealing with complaints and following up violations of the rules of competition.

Company’s Obligations

Youth protection presents companies with numerous issues to be considered. The regulations laid down by youth media protection law are complex, sanctions for infringements are severe. Companies and providers have to meet these requirements.

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Frequently asked questions

Who is the FSM and what does it do? How do youth protection programmes work? How can parents guide their children in the safe use of digital media? Find answers to these and other questions.

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