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Young television viewers [What Europe does for you]

With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for young television viewers.

Do your children spend less time in school than in front of a TV set? You are not alone. Worryingly, by the age of 18, the average young European will have spent a full four years in front of a screen. Although there are potential benefits from watching TV, time dedicated to such media may displace other meaningful activities, such as reading, exercising or playing.

Since 1996, the EU has been a forerunner in the fight against harmful audiovisual content. However, the understanding is that the protection of minors cannot be achieved through legislation alone, but should go hand in hand with parental responsibility and control.

© Myst / Fotolia

‘Harmful’ content (legal, but potentially damaging for the physical, mental or moral development of minors) includes sexually explicit material, political opinions and religious beliefs. Under EU rules, ‘harmful’ content can only be broadcast if minors will not normally hear or see it – by selecting the time of the broadcast or by any technical measure such as encryption. When such programmes are not encrypted, they must be preceded by an acoustic warning or made clearly identifiable throughout their duration by means of a visual symbol.

Even stricter rules apply to programmes which might seriously damage the development of young people, notably pornography or gratuitous violence. The broadcasting of such programmes is prohibited, except through video on-demand services, subject to certain measures to ensure that minors will not normally hear or see them (that is through the use of personal identification numbers or other advanced age verification systems).

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