[DE] KJM updates supervision criteria for youth protection in broadcasting and telemedia

IRIS 2020-10:1/6

Mirjam Kaiser

Institute of European Media Law

In August 2020, the Kommission für Jugendmedienschutz (Commission for the Protection of Minors in the Media – KJM) of the German Landesmedienanstalten (state media authorities) updated its broadcasting and telemedia supervision criteria. New criteria were added to take account of new Internet trends, such as influencer marketing, and the dangers of online gaming addiction.

The KJM is an organ of the Landesmedienanstalten. Germany’s federal structure, in which 14 state media authorities operate in the 16 Bundesländer (federal states), means that a joint body is needed to standardise the supervision of measures to protect young people in the media. The KJM is therefore responsible for ensuring a coherent approach to the monitoring of national private broadcasters and the Internet (telemedia). The legal basis for its activities is provided by the Jugendmedienschutz-Staatsvertrag (Inter-State Treaty on the protection of minors in the media – JMStV), a treaty between all the German Bundesländer.

The broadcasting and telemedia supervision criteria are designed to assist the supervision process. The list of criteria helps the authorities to assess the possible effects of content on children and young people, especially its potential to harm their development. It is drawn up with reference to research on media impact and various aspects of media law. In addition to existing themes such as sexuality, violence and discrimination, the latest version focuses on certain Internet-specific phenomena.

Within the "promotion of excessive use" category, interactive services such as online gaming and social networks were classified as a potential risk. Following the World Health Organization’s classification of online gaming addiction as an illness, the risks of online gaming were defined. The main risks were posed by games with a social element and immersive games, that is, those in which players lost awareness of their surroundings. For example, the KJM thought that virtual reality games (VR) were particularly dangerous.

As well as online gaming, close attention was paid to influencer marketing in the context of advertising and teleshopping. The influencers’ use of the informal ‘Du’ form was considered especially risky and those who addressed children and young people directly were in danger of exploiting their inexperience and credulity. Exerting time pressure on young people was also very dangerous because it could cause them to make rash purchasing decisions.

The KJM must always respond to new Internet developments and trends as they emerge, continuously updating and adapting the list of criteria in order to ensure that young people are effectively protected.


This article has been published in IRIS Legal Observations of the European Audiovisual Observatory.