The European Union Directive “Television without Frontiers”

The European Union adopted in 1989 the “Television without Frontiers” Directive, which was amended in 1997 (97/36/CE). The Directive establishes the legal frame of reference for the free movement of television broadcasting services in the Union’s now 25 member states. To this end it provides for the Community co-ordination of national legislation in several areas, not least protection of minors, expressed in Article 22 of the Directive.


Article 22

  1. Member States shall take appropriate measures to ensure that television broadcasts by broadcasters under their jurisdiction do not include any programmes which might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of minors, in particular programmes that involve pornography or gratuitous violence.

  2. The measures provided for in paragraph 1 shall also extend to other programmes which are likely to impair the physical, mental or moral development of minors, except where it is ensured, by selecting the time of the broadcast or by any technical measure, that minors in the area of transmission will not normally hear or see such broadcasts.

  3. Furthermore, when such programmes are broadcast in unencoded form Member States shall ensure that they are preceded by an acoustic warning or are identified by the presence of a visual symbol throughout their duration.

Article 22a

Member States shall ensure that broadcasts do not contain any incitement to hatred on grounds of race, sex, religion or nationality.

Article 22b

  1. The Commission shall attach particular importance to application of this Chapter in the report provided for in Article 26.

  2. The Commission shall within one year from the date of publication of this Directive, in liaison with the competent Member State authorities, carry out an investigation of the possible advantages and drawbacks of further measures with a view to facilitating the control exercised by parents or guardians over the programmes that minors may watch. This study shall consider, inter alia, the desirability of:
    the requirement for new television sets to be equipped with a technical device enabling parents or guardians to filter out certain programmes,
    the setting up of appropriate rating systems,
    encouraging family viewing policies and other educational and awareness measures,
    taking into account experience gained in this field in Europe and elsewhere as well as the views of interested parties such as broadcasters, producers, educationalists, media specialists and relevant associations.

Adopted on 3 October, 1989, and amended on 30 June, 1997

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