• Legal Framework

    “Rundfunkstaatsvertrag” (Interstate Broadcasting Treaty)

    A uniform basis for private and public broadcasting in Germany is created by the "Rundfunkstaatsvertrag Länder". The central provisions on advertising can be found in paragraphs 1, 7a, 8, 8a and 45. Advertising in Germany must not involve or promote discrimination, it must not promote behaviour that endangers health, safety or the environment, it must not harm or mislead the interests of consumers and it must not violate human dignity. 

    The predominantly fee-financed public broadcasters ARD and ZDF are not allowed to show more than 20 minutes of advertising per working day per channel on an annual average and after 8 p.m. not at all. This restriction does not apply to private television stations such as ProSieben or RTL. They finance themselves mainly through advertising revenues. Both public and private television stations are allowed to broadcast a maximum of twelve minutes of advertising per hour. 

    In addition, the "Rundfunkstaatsvertrag" stipulates that advertising as such must be clearly distinguishable from editorial content and easily recognisable. This is implemented in practice, for example, by acoustic and optical indicators before and after an advertising interruption. From a legal point of view, individual advertising clips outside an ad segment may only be broadcast in exceptional cases.

    According to the law, there is a higher level of protection with regard to advertising for children. For example:

    • television programmes for children may not be interrupted by advertising.
    • Advertising is only permitted after a programme and before the next programme begins. 
    • Above all, the demand for a clear separation between programmes and advertising is of great importance for children under the age of six.

    The skill to differentiate between these two areas can be developed with the help of media pedagogical work in ECEC centres.

    Jugendmedienschutz-Staatsvertrag - JMStV (State Treaty on the Protection of Children and youth in the Media)

    Article 6 of the JMStV contains guidelines on the protection of children and youth in the field of television and online advertising. In principle, advertising may not impair children and adolescents either mentally or physically. According to the JMStV, advertising is not allowed to directly invite children and youth to rent or buy goods or services that exploit their credulity and inexperience. Furthermore, advertising must not directly encourage children and adolescents to persuade their parents or third parties to purchase the advertised product. It must not exploit the special trust which children and adolescents have in parents, ECEC professionals or other persons they trust and it must not show children and youth in dangerous situations without good reason. Advertisements must also be broadcast separately from editorial content for children and young people if they refer to potentially harmful products. Alcoholic beverages may also not be advertised with an affinity for children and adolescents.

    Der Deutsche Werberat (The German Advertising Council)

    As a non-governmental self-regulatory body of the advertising industry, the "German Advertising Council" has existed in Germany since 1972. Its task is to ensure that legally permitted advertising does not cross any ethical boundaries. Its goals include the promotion of responsible action and the elimination of grievances within the advertising industry. Citizens can themselves point out representations and contents that are perceived as inappropriate and submit complaints to the Advertising Council. In addition, the "German Advertising Council" has its own rules of conduct in addition to the statutory regulations. It becomes active when advertising that is perceived as inappropriate is not legally permissible. If the Advertising Council decides in favour of the complaint submitted after the test procedure, the advertising company is requested to change or discontinue their advertising. If the company does not comply, the "German Advertising Council" may issue a public reprimand.

    Today, the omnipresence and diversity of media presents the protection of children and youth from harmful media with difficult tasks. On the one hand, it is increasingly difficult to use reliable control mechanisms (e.g. time limits) or technical measures due to the large number of media and the confusing, cross-border, mostly electronic distribution channels. On the other hand, protective measures are becoming indispensable due to increasing content relevant to the protection of children and youth. For this reason, it is essential to accompany the children, especially young children, when they use media.