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Media Freedom and Pluralism

Beata Klimkiewicz

Section 2: Content and service-related regulation

Chapter 7.Television: The Stepmother?

Lilia Raycheva

Texte intégral

7.1. Introduction

1The virtual environment occupies a notable place in the interests of children. Studies show that they spend a substantial part of their time watching TV programs, surfing on the internet, and chatting and texting on mobile phones. The products and services offered by the new information and communications technologies strongly compete with, and often challenge, family values and knowledge from school. Undoubtedly, information derived from these products and services affect children’s intellect, psyche, and behavior. The virtual world is rich in positive and negative behavioristic models, which children, due to the peculiarities of their psychological development, transfer into the real environment too quickly. Their preferences for certain types of models change as they mature, and it is exactly during puberty that they become extremely vulnerable and their choices unpredictable. Quite often children see the audiovisual world and cyberspace as a shelter, where they feel free from everyday stress, fear, and loneliness. The TV set, the computer, or even the mobile phone display give them dialogue and social contacts that they are missing in the real world. However, the audiovisual world and cyberspace are not yet a safe shelter for minors. This brings to the fore the issue of positive and negative aspects offered by virtual reality: does it broaden the mental outlook, or is it just an escape from an unfriendly social environment?

2This text examines some current developments in the protection of minors from harmful and inappropriate TV content. The analysis concentrates on the regulatory challenges in line with the pan-European broadcasting media instruments. The paper also covers some of the regulatory practices of the Bulgarian Council for electronic Media.

7.2. Television and violence

3Television has widely been called the “third parent,” both because of its educational function and because TV programs often replace the physical presence of parents in the daily routine of the child.

4Institutions, civil society, business, and the media have failed to coordinate in a purposeful and systematic way to protect children from dangerous content. Instead there have been only sporadic noisy campaigns (usually after a tragic or a provocative event) that only consolidate the position of the child as an object, a victim of circumstances, and not as a subject of society, enjoying full rights. Minors have no rights whatsoever either in the domain of media regulation, or in self-regulation or programming. They cannot choose their family, or their curricula, or the society they are living in. instead, they must conform to the choices of their parents or guardians. The easiest and most promising way out of their victimization seems to be to adopt aggressive or asocial behavioral models. Contemporary audiovisual programming has been proven to promote such behavior.

5The intensive development of audiovisual structures, and especially of television worldwide, has led to exponential growth in the number of channels, and sharp increases in the amount of air time, thus increasing the number of violent incidents witnessed on television. Video-centrism has almost abolished language barriers. a crime film or thriller, not to mention a porn film, could be made solely by editing the picture, sound, and specific effects. Speech simply elucidates the action a little and guides the viewer, who either turns into an investigator (as in the crime movies), or into a victim (as in the thrillers) of the screen narration. Tension builds up chiefly by means of visuality and paraverbalism.

6More than a decade ago, Bertrand Tavernier, incensed by the way in which television flagrantly violated people’s privacy, made his wonderful film La mort en direct (“death Watch”). He showed how, in pursuit of sensation, a TV company implanted a mini-transmitter into a terminally ill cancer patient (Romy Schneider) to record her last days. Sidney Lumet’s Network, written by Paddy Chayefsky, posited another dramatic situation. Seeking desperately to boost his failing broadcast at the local TV station, its host announced that he would kill himself in front of the cameras. (Two years before the film’s release, a 29-yearold reporter in Florida actually shot herself on a live news broadcast.) For a couple of weeks, the ill-starred host, Howard Beale, grew from a miserable misfit into a sought-after prophet, and he boosted his show’s ratings dramatically. However, when ratings once again declined, the producer of the show, governed exclusively by commercial interest, cold-bloodedly proposed to have the host shot in front of the cameras: “I think I can get the Mao Tse Tung people to kill Beale for us as one of their programs. In fact, it’ll make a hell of kick-off show for the season. We’re facing heavy opposition from the other networks on Wednesday nights, and the Mao Tse Tung Hour could use a sensational show for an opener. The whole thing would be done right on camera, in the studio. We ought to get a fantastic look-in audience with the assassination of Howard Beale as our opening show” (Chayefsky, P., 1976).

7Death as commodity, violence as an instrument for advertising: This was the creative message of the two famous filmmakers. Television as a modern form of gladiator fights or bullfighting, with the inevitable bloodshed—this is the common thread of the two works. War, bloodshed, and violence are commodities in great demand—they are newsworthy, and so particularly promising for the journalistic reports. The question of ethical balance while reporting such events still re-mains open.

8Of all media, television influences children the most, beginning at an early age. Although license requirements for children’s and youth programming are not very stringent, broadcasters seem to have trouble meeting them. Child-related topics are unattractive for advertisers and, hence, for broadcasters. Additionally, daytime programs often offer content (including cruelty and violence) inappropriate for adolescents.

9Although television is widely recognized as most influential of all media on children, there is no broad consensus on its effects on adolescents. a basic reason is that TV channels broadcast a variety of programs, some educational and inspiring, others cruel and depressing. There is an ongoing debate over the connection between exposure to violent TV content and the behavior of children.

10Human aggressiveness is biologically determined. Freud’s champions state that a man is instinctively aggressive and that each of us, whether introvert or extrovert, carries his or her share of destructiveness. Behaviorists, in turn, claim that human aggressiveness is determined by one’s way of life. They maintain that culture and harmonious social conventions, the ever-improving “socio,” have a good chance of reducing harmful instincts.

11Television violence is a particularly topical subject in media research. One controversy is prompted chiefly by the major dilemma: Could violence on the TV screen turn into a significant social threat, or is it an insignificant phenomenon artificially charged with alleged problems? In other words: does violence shown on TV encourage aggression in younger viewers, or does it have no impact on their behavior? In a paper on media violence written for the Council of Europe, Guy Cumberbatch points out that over three-fourths of the existing studies claim that a direct connection exists between the crimes shown on TV and aggression in real life (Cumberbatch, 1995). Many scientists cite the 1982 publication of the national institute of Mental Health in the united states (based on a ten-year investigation), which concludes that “violence on TV pushes the children and adolescents who watch these programs to aggressive behavior” (national institute of Mental Health, 1982).

12The researchers who support this allegation maintain that excessive watching of TV in general (not only of programs with violence) has a negative effect on the entire audience (Carlsson, 2006). Discord between children and parents, conflicts at school, and physical violence, according to them, are specifically related to excessive TV watching. Furthermore, the impact of screen brutality also depends on a number of factors, such as the organization of film editing and the dramaturgical escalation of action; the context of visual, verbal, and musical parameters of communication; the personal characteristics of the viewers; and the conditions under which the program is watched. some scholars think that current TV entertainment programs often act as a specific guide to aggressive behavior for many children who would not otherwise act anti-socially (von Felitzen and Carlsson, 2004; Hattemer and showers, 1995).

13A number of studies have shown a direct correlation between the TV programs watched by primary-school children and the behavior of these children in adolescence. This correlation has proved stronger than the socioeconomic status of their parents, parent-children relations, the interrelations of children with their teachers and friends, or how intelligent they are. Thus, a preference for violent TV programs at an early age may condition aggressive habits later on. if we fail to control our way of life, but have instruments for violence at our disposal, sooner or later these instruments will be used, after we have seen on the TV screen how easily this could be done (von Felitzen and Carlsson, 2004).

14Another group of researchers dismiss as extreme the allegations that TV violence increases the aggressiveness of viewers in real life, as well as statements that television could replace parents in the upbringing of children. Neil Postman, for instance, is adamant that “violence shown on the TV has nothing to do with the increased aggressiveness in recipients” (Postman, 1993). The atrocities of the two world wars could not be linked to any TV impact, for television viewing did not become widespread until later.

15Indeed, some studies have shown that the television can also have a positive influence on children, teaching them constructive social behavior. According to many authors, the major challenge in this situation is the lack of parental commitment. Accustomed to the “electronic nanny,” they somehow fail to teach their children early on how to change the channel or turn the set off (Siano, 1995).

16In this situation two aspects of the “television and violence” theme can be approached: violence “on” television and violence “invoked by” television.

17Violence on TV is approached by expert opinion along three lines, namely that the viewer can:

  • be pushed to imitate the actions seen on the screen under suitable circumstances;

  • be repulsed by on-screen violence and avoid resorting to violence in real life;

  • become indifferent to, and accepting of, real-life violence.

7.3. Imitation

18Teachers express concern that students today spend more time in front of the TV and computer screens than in the classroom. Thus they are exposed to a flood of violence: murders, robberies, arson, shootouts, muggings, and torture. Children in primary school seem much more exposed to the impact of these scenes: in cartoons some kind of violence, however amusing, happens an average of once a minute. An unrepresentative study of about thirty Bulgarian third-graders and their attitude to animated cartoons proved interesting. Two-thirds of them preferred Tom and Jerry, with its ever-warring main characters, to the peaceful Bananas in Pyjamas. Moreover, almost all children seemed to like Jerry for his confidence, quick reaction, and aggressiveness. The inventiveness of the little mouse was never mentioned in the first place. The results of a similar study carried out in the united states of children’s preferences for film fiction have shown their explicit interest in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s The Terminator. However, both studies have one thing in common: The children studied did not demonstrate antisocial behavior (Raycheva, 1998).

19Albert Bandura of Stanford University carried out laboratory experiments (with his famous Bobo doll) intended to establish to what degree schoolchildren tend to imitate audiovisual violence (Bandura, 1989). Unfortunately, “the culture of violence” has turned from a major physical and mental threat into a way of life in the upbringing of most of the younger generation. This has led some researchers to claim that television has become a school of violence and a university of crime. They even suggest that the instances of good prevailing over evil depicted on TV may teach the criminally minded how to avoid retribution in real-life situations.

20The opponents of this thesis maintain in turn that violence on TV steps up aggressiveness only in those individuals who are predisposed to antisocial behavior. These researchers also de-emphasize television’s role in developing such a predisposition (Angelov, 2005).

7.4. Repulsion

21Another approach to the issue holds that TV violence may repel one from resorting to aggressiveness in life. One widespread idea is that aggression in children shows their independence. As the children are well aware how limited their power is by parents and teachers, they hail TV screen violence as a way to shake off this complex of powerlessness and to watch the manifestation of TV power undisturbed. For instance the study of Bulgarian third-graders cited above found that their interest in the function of the guillotine was aroused by the popular TV show Kanaleto, which depicted this contraption when it “cut away” for a commercial break.

22Some researchers assert that the long hours spent in front of the TV screen help reduce aggressiveness in everyday life. They cite the TV interpretation of rock and pop music as an example of free expression of social and aggressive energy. Evolving as a specific revolt of teenagers in the mid-1950s, this type of music has long occupied a place on the TV screen, aiding—as a number of papers conjecture—a catharsis therapy for young people in grappling with the problems of their age group (Kunczik, M. 1993; Rockwell, J. 1979).

7.5. Indifference

23The third group of studies stresses that an overdose of TV violence may leave the viewer indifferent to crime around him in the real world. They allege that people more intensively exposed to the media, and especially to television, generally develop a suspicion of reality. On many TV programs, characters are habitually surrounded by violence. Furthermore, apocalyptic footage is shown daily on news and documentary broadcasts. According to these researchers, intensive TV watching inculcates fear and mistrust of reality. The viewer gets used to the feeling that at any moment he may become a victim of some type of violence, and his intolerance of aggression in real life is dulled (Lopiparo, J. 1977).

24Also, more than a quarter of a century ago, George Gerbner pointed out that television’s major impact lies in its ability to transmit not so much information as ideas of social structures, norms, and behavior. Overexposure to violence on the TV screen may convey to viewers the idea that we live in a hostile world that is out of our control (Gerbner et al., 1980).

25Another important aspect of the issue concerns violence “invoked by” television. The viewers live on the boundary of two realities: the actual one and the one created by the mass media. The outlines of these two realities get progressively fuzzier: real life acquires illusory dimensions, while the TV world takes on virtual parameters.

26A deeper probing will show that this diffusion is so great that our real world has started to resemble the TV reality. Let us take, for instance, the assassination of Andrei Loukanov, Bulgarian politician and former prime minister, in front of his home on October 2, 1996. Was it not performed and even presented by the media as a crime? even the hackneyed phrase uttered repeatedly by the mass media (including on television) that after the assassination “Bulgaria shall not be the same” seemed borrowed from the vulgar novel (as its author, Hristo Kalchev, has himself defined it) Caligula the Raving: “The raving was dead and […] all big shots or pygmies in this state would have to abide by this fact or at least allow for it. Zhorzh Izov the raving […] had lived in such a way that after him ‘nothing in Bulgaria could ever remain the same.’ Much easier or with less commotion the country would have survived the death of its President, of the speaker of Parliament, of the Prime Minister…” (Kalchev, 1996).

27The day of Andrei Loukanov’s assassination witnessed another grave crime, this one on the motorway near Veliko Turnovo: a bus was attacked and robbed. Damages amounted to U.S. $57,000, and one of the passengers was shot and wounded. However, this news failed to make the TV news broadcasts (according to the Press Center of the Ministry of internal affairs). This comparison of the two big crimes is not to belittle the place of Andrei Loukanov in the political landscape of Bulgaria but only to show how the television adapts to the “corrida rules.” The assassination at 15 Latinka Street (the home of Andrei Loukanov) was a more compelling incident—it was fatal, blood was shed, the victim was very well known, viewers were shocked, and the footage became headline news and even made the world newscasts.

28Practice shows that flagrant examples of violence flow from the screen: from the selection of news items in the news broadcasts to their arrangement in the program; from the choice of a viewpoint in the talk shows to preferences of whom to interview on specific topics; from the interruption of broadcasts by advertisements to the contents of these same advertisements. it is an open secret that TV advertisements are designed not to advertise the properties of goods or services, but to exacerbate the complexes of the viewers.

7.6. European policies on the protection of minors

29Protection of the best interests of the child holds priority in the un Convention on the rights of the Child (un Convention, 1989). it has since been ratified by all governments except the richest, the united states, and one of the poorest, Somalia. according to article 17 of the Convention, “states Parties recognize the important function performed by the mass media and shall ensure that the child has access to information and material from a diversity of national and international sources, especially those aimed at the promotion of his or her social, spiritual and moral well-being and physical and mental health.” in the media context, among other issues, the Convention also states that:

  • the child shall have a right to expression in any medium of his or her choice;

  • the child shall have access to information and materials from diverse national and international sources;

  • along with this, the child must be protected from informational and material harm.

30The European Community has consistently paid thorough attention to the protection of children in various areas. The Green Paper on the protection of minors and human dignity in audiovisual and information services marked the beginning of a debate, at a pan-European level, on the ethical parameters of the information society and audiovisual services provided by the new information and communication technologies. In contemporary times the linear TV programs are challenged by new hybrid audiovisual forms, bringing together games, advertising, or information. The editorial model with the increased personal choice for selection from a wide range of TV programs shifts towards the individual communication model in the online services. The implementation of measures to protect minors requires new solutions for material labeling through increased parental control, both in television and in on-line environments, using new digital methods (personal codes, filtering software, or control chips). The encouragement of cooperation between the interested parties, such as government, industry, public authorities, service and access providers, and consumers is important for the Member states in the process of establishing, implementing, and evaluating national measures in the area of regulation, self-regulation, and public awareness of the audiovisual services concerning protection of minors (European Commission, 1996). The Council recommendation of 1998 (98/560/EC) on the protection of minors and human dignity was the first important instrument relating to the regulation and self-regulation of the content of audiovisual services and online information that follows on from the 1996 Green Paper. It aims at providing guidelines for national legislation in this area (European Council, 1998).

31On December 20, 2006, the European Parliament and the Council adopted a recommendation on the Protection of Minors and Human dignity and on the right of reply in relation to the competitiveness of the European audiovisual and online information services industry (2006/952/eC). The recommendation extends the scope of the earlier Council recommendation (1998) to include media literacy, cooperation, and sharing of experience and good practices between self-, co-and regulatory bodies, action against discrimination in all media, and the right of reply concerning online media (European Parliament and the Council, 2006b).

32These texts are supplemented by the recommendations of the Parliamentary assembly and the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe relating to the protection of minors and adolescents from any harmful content of the electronic media. These are not legally binding documents, but they represent important standard-setting issues.

33The main international instruments in the field of TV broadcasting dealing with the protection of minors and adolescents are:

  • The European Convention on Transfrontier Television (now under revision);

  • The audiovisual Media service directive.

34Both sets of regulations stipulate mainly that parties to the agreements should protect minors against exposure to pornography or gratuitous violence.

35The aim of the European Convention on Transfrontier Television since its entry into force on May 1, 1993, has been to facilitate, among the parties (currently thirty-two), the transfrontier transmission and retransmission of television program services. It is a legally binding document that lays down a set of minimum rules in areas such as the responsibility of broadcasters in regard to programming matters, including the European content of programming; advertising; teleshopping; and sponsorship, as well as the protection of certain individual rights (Council of Europe, 1989).

Table7.1. Recommendations of the Council of Europe on protecting minors

Table7.1. Recommendations of the Council of Europe on protecting minors

Source: Council of Europe. Adopted texts. (​t/​cm/​Home_en.asp; retrieved April 12, 2008)

36Particularly important is the “Good Morals” category or, in other words, public morals. Article 7 (1) of the ECTT dealing with the responsibilities of the broadcaster states:

37“All items of programme services, as concerns their presentation and content, shall respect the dignity of the human being and the fundamental rights of others. In particular, they shall not be indecent and contain pornography; give undue prominence to violence, or be likely to incite racial hatred.”

38For this reason, the protection modes intended for underage viewers are restricted to the hours when the programs are broadcast and viewed. Thus, whenever there are programs with unsuitable content on the air, age limits for the child audience are explicitly fixed. The norm of article 7 (2) of the ECTT adds that “all items of programme services which are likely to impair the physical, mental or moral development of children and adolescents shall not be scheduled.”

39The provisions of the Convention on the Protection of Minors and adolescents also extend to advertising and teleshopping, setting the general standards in article 11 (3): “advertising and teleshopping addressed to or using children shall avoid anything likely to harm their interests and shall have regard to their special susceptibilities” and (4): “Teleshopping shall not extort minors to contract for the sale or rental of goods and services.”

40The ECTT and its amending Protocol have similar objectives as the audiovisual Media service directive, although the intention of the AVMS directive as an instrument of the European Commission is to create a common market in broadcasting.

41The need to set some minimum standards applicable in all Member states to regulate the rigorously developing TV and radio market, following the rapid technological developments in the 1980s resulted in the European Union adopting the Television without Frontiers directive 89/552/EEC on October 3, 1989. This directive constitutes the legal EU framework aimed in particular at preserving certain objectives of public interest, such as cultural diversity, the right to reply, protection of consumers, and protection of minors. The general principle of the TVWF directive is that Member states must ensure freedom of reception and that they may not restrict retransmission of television programs from other Member states on their territory, unless they infringe the directive’s provisions on the protection of minors (European Council, 1989).

42The intense developments in the audiovisual sector determined the need for further extensions of the rules regarding some of its general provisions. The convergence of technologies caused the interweaving of linear and non-linear services. Expansion of the fixed broadband, digital TV and 3G networks rapidly changed the viewers’ habits. The vertical structure of audio-visual programming has been gradually displaced by horizontal fragmentation of the audiences, who wish to schedule their viewing at their convenience. Technological progress has had a powerful impact on the business models of media industry. A need for modernization and adjustment of the regulatory framework has crystallized in this new situation of rigorous market and technology developments.

43After a lengthy and intensive discussion, more coherent measures for reinforcing the pan-European audiovisual policy were proposed to the Community legislator, taking into account the objective of creating a pro-competition, technologically driven and growth-oriented environment for the development of the audiovisual sector. a broad consensus on the scope, European works, co- and self-regulation, and independence of the national media regulators has been achieved. Thus the amending directive was adopted on December 11, 2007, and entered into force on December 19, 2007. Member states had two years to transpose the new provisions into national law, so the modernized legal framework for audiovisual media services has been fully applicable throughout the European Union by the end of 2009.

44The AVMS directive offers a comprehensive legal framework that covers all linear (broadcasting) and non-linear (on-demand) audiovisual media services, provides less detailed and more flexible regulation, and modernizes rules on TV advertising to better finance audiovisual content. The AVMS directive also upholds the basic pillars of Europe’s audiovisual model, such as cultural diversity, media pluralism, and protection of minors, consumer protection, and intolerance of incitement to racial and religious hatred. it acknowledges that “audiovisual media services are as much cultural services as they are economic services.” in particular, the new directive underlines the importance of promoting media literacy, the development of which can help people “exercise informed choices, understand the nature of content and services and take advantage of the full range of opportunities offered by new communication technologies” (European Parliament and the Council, 2007). Thus they will be better able to protect themselves and their families from harmful or offensive material.

45The directive also stresses that “measures taken to protect minors and human dignity must be carefully balanced with the fundamental right to freedom of expression as laid down in the Charter on Fundamental rights of the European Union. The aim of these measures, such as Pin codes (personal identification numbers) or labelling, should however be to ensure an adequate level of protection of minors and human dignity, especially with regard to non-linear services.”

  • 1 It states: “(1) Member states shall ensure that audiovisual commercial communications provided by p (...)

46A special provision concerning the influences of commercial communication on children is included in article 3e of Chapter IIA: Provisions applicable to all audiovisual Media services.1

47A separate chapter in the AVMS directive is dedicated to the protection of minors in television broadcasting (Chapter V). In particular, article 22 states that:

“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 and moral development of minors, in particular programmes that involve pornography or gratuitous violence. (...)
“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.”

48The scope both of the ECTT and the AVMS directive is very flexible and dynamic. That is why improving them is an ongoing process. In particular, the revision of both instruments by the participating Parties concern:

  • Their scope (the broadening of the traditional television broadcasting towards the ICT audio-visual services);

  • their duties;

  • the broadening of the jurisdiction and the scope of the regulatory practices, involving co-regulation and self-regulation;

  • the freedoms of reception and retransmission, including intended and unintended transfrontier distribution;

  • the developments of advertising techniques (advertising, sponsorship, teleshopping, product placement, etc.);

  • the protection of rights granted by the ECTT and the AVMS directive (such as the right to information and cultural objectives, media pluralism, right to reply, protection of minors and respect for human dignity), etc.

49The rapid change of the audiovisual market requires thorough refining of the existing norms in the Convention and the directive, supported by a broad consensus. The challenge is whether the regulatory changes should anticipate or follow the media practices.

7.7. TV regulatory practices of EPRA

50The need for still-closer cooperation between the regulatory bodies of the different countries in implementing the European media policies was determined by the ever-faster developing processes of transfrontier globalization and convergence. The European Platform of regulatory authorities, set up in 1995, provides a forum twice a year for the regulatory authorities—members of the Platform. It encourages the exchange of information on common issues of national and European broadcasting regulation, as well as informal discussions of practical solutions to legal problems regarding the interpretation and application of broadcasting regulation. The European Commission and the Council of Europe are standing observers of the Platform, in which fifty-one regulatory authorities from forty-two countries in Europe are holding membership (EPRA, 2008).

51The issue of the protection of minors has often been discussed at EPRA meetings. The issue of violence on television was first raised at the 7th EPRA meeting in Fredrikstad, Norway, in 1998. it was pointed out then that “from a regulatory point of view, the difficulty is to keep a balance between the right to free information, as stated in article 10 of the European Convention on Human rights and the protection of the audience against harmful programme content” (EPRA, 1998). This meeting revealed that, parallel with the many contradictory interpretations, ranging from the assumption of a positive cathartic effect to a direct correlation between violence on screen and violent behavior in real life, national approaches to the question of violence on television are extremely varied (EPRA, 1998).

Table7. 2. EPRA meetings connected with the issues of protecting minors

Table7. 2. EPRA meetings connected with the issues of protecting minors

Source: European Platform of Regulatory Authorities. (​content/​english/​index2.html)

52In his presentation at the 14th EPRA meeting in St. Julians, Malta, Alecos Evangelou, the then-chairman of the Cyprus radio-Television authority, pointed out that “compared to adults, children have different thinking abilities and less experience to help them construct a meaning of the television messages they receive. in addition, children of different ages have different information-processing abilities to the television-viewing situation. This disparity in thinking and information-processing abilities is what makes children a special group of viewers” (EPRA, 2001). It was agreed that the obligation of regulators is to protect children and young adults, first, from information which they are unable to process and perceive because of their age and, second, from information to which they should not be exposed at such an age (EPRA, 2001).

53The plenary session of the 17th EPRA meeting in Naples dealt with the issue of self-regulation of TV content with respect to the protection of minors and violence. In his presentation, Sven Egil Omdal, a media practitioner for more than thirty years, a former member of the Norwegian Broadcasting Complaints Commission, and former President of the Press Council, expressed confidence that self-regulation was a far better system—providing that the media itself was determined to make it work. Discussing the practices of the Norwegian Press Council, established in 1928, he said it was highly respected both within the media and among the public.

“As convergence picks up speed, and more and more people receive newspaper articles, radio programmes or television productions through broadband internet connections, the old divisions between the regulatory systems for the different media become more and more unpractical and will eventually be regarded as obsolete. The Norwegian Press Council treats complaints against all media, regardless of publishing platform. The code of conduct upon which it bases its decisions has been amended to include online and wireless media. That, and the fact that there is only one regulatory body for all media, ensures that all journalists and media workers are judged by the same standard” (omdal, 2003).

54The Norwegian law respects the 9 p.m. limit concerning material that might be harmful to minors. The Norwegian ombudsman for Children has proposed to expand the Code of Conduct to include news and current affairs within this watershed regulation. According to the Code of Conduct, media are obliged to protect minors in conflicts between their parents; as a general rule, it is prohibited to identify minors directly or indirectly in stories about family conflicts. The Press Council is, however, not authorized to censure anyone for breaking the regulation, even if it might be argued that this is an ethical question rather than a technical one. The Norwegian model is based on the self-discipline of the media practitioners, which again is based on the ability of editors, publishers, and journalists to cooperate (Omdal, 2003).

55At this EPRA meeting, co-regulation practices have also been discussed as those of the Swedish Press Council and the institution of the Swedish Press ombudsman, being heteronomous self-regulatory bodies, based on contracts with the legal society and the Parliament, and Granskninsnämnden, the Broadcasting Commission, which is a government body.

56The practices of self-and co-regulation were further tackled in the background information paper on the practices of the regulators in France, Netherlands, and Germany. They were selected on the basis of their distinctiveness and because they all included, albeit at various degrees, elements of self- or co-regulation.

57The iris special, a publication of the European audiovisual observatory, dedicated to the topic “Co-regulation of the Media in Europe,” makes a terminological distinction between self-regulation, self-monitoring, co-regulation, and regulation (Palzer, 2003):

  • Self-regulation implies a regulatory framework under which bodies draw up their own regulations in order to achieve certain objectives and take full responsibility for monitoring compliance with those regulations. A key element is the voluntary participation of those subjects to regulation. Public authority sanctions cannot be imposed but only those provided by civil law.

  • Self-monitoring is limited to monitoring compliance with a given set of regulations that have been laid down by another authority.

  • Co-regulation covers various co-operative forms of regulation designed to achieve public authority objectives. It contains elements of self-regulation as well as traditional public authority regulation. It is based on a self-regulatory framework. However, it is still incumbent on the public authorities to monitor the activities of the self-regulatory body and intervene, if necessary.

  • 2 CSA: La protection des mineurs à la télévision; retrieved (...)

58Almost two decades ago, the French Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel (CSA) issued a directive that broadcasters should not broadcast any violent or erotic programs between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. The principle of signalétique, adopted in 1996, aimed to establish a correlation between the system of television program rating symbols (pictograms) and scheduling in cooperation between the CSA and broadcasters. The system applies to all broadcast services, whether free-to-air or not. The signalétique is used for all kinds of programs (cinema or TV fiction, serials, cartoons, and documentaries) except the news, but essentially for fiction. The pictograms are also to be found in TV schedules and trailers (CSA, 1996).2

  • 3 NICAM: What is kijkwijzer; retrieved April 9, 2007.

59A rating system close to the CSA practice is the Dutch Kijkwijzer, introduced in 2001 by the NICAM (the Netherlands institute for the Classification of audiovisual Media). Participants in NICAM include public and private broadcasters as well as film distributors, cinema operators, distributors of films on video and DVD and of computer games, videotheques, and retailers. What distinguishes this system from others is that it introduces a uniform classification system for film, TV, video, DVD and games and that it includes clear self-regulatory components. The system is based on a classification by age (all ages, not for children under six, twelve, or sixteen years of age) and relevant content categories (violence, sex, fear, discrimination, drug and alcohol abuse, and swearing) developed by Dutch academics. Through pictograms, the system shows what the potential problems of a product are for a particular age category (NICAM, 2001).3

60in Germany, according to legislation on the protection of minors that entered into force in 2003, a uniform regulatory system for all electronic media (broadcasting and internet), stricter rules concerning the protection of minors and more elements of self-regulation have been introduced through the Federal act on the Protection of Minors (Jugendschutzgesetz) and the interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in the Media (Jugendmedienschutz-staatsvertrag, JMStV). The new Treaty brought new media supervisory structures and a new distribution of competences between the Federal Government, which is now responsible for “offline” media, and the länder (German states), which are responsible for all online media. Both media services and teleservices have been redefined as “telemedia.” Central to the new supervisory structures are the Commission for the Protection of Minors in the Media (Kommission für Jugendmedienschutz, KJM) and the voluntary self-regulation organizations (Selbstkontrol-leinrichtungen, SKEs) that it certifies (Pertzinidou and Machet, 2003). Similar rating systems have been adopted by the regulators elsewhere in Europe, such as Bulgaria, Poland, Greece, Slovakia, and the French Community of Belgium.

61Current issues of concern, along with examples from different countries, and the issue of the protection of minors in news and current affairs programs were discussed at the 19th EPRA meeting in Stockholm. The Romanian regulator shared experiences with offenses in which minors are considered an audience, as well as a topic of the programs. Germany gave examples of “extreme” game shows such as I’m a Celebrity, Get Me out of Here! (RTL), Schuermann’s Gebot (Neun Live), Fear Factor (RTL), or Scare Tactics (MTV). These programs appear to test social norms and break taboos in the hope of attracting public interest and thus generating greater audiences. France focused on the erroneous age classification of a fiction program La ligne Noire and the U.S. TV series 24 Hours, the promotion of dangerous behavior in programs like Fear Factor, and the trivialization of sex and pornography during daytime programs Thé ou café and Les co-locataires (EPRA, 2004).

7.8. The case of Bulgaria: children

  • 4 National statistical institute of Bulgaria (2003): Census, Housing Fund and Agricultural Holdings: (...)

62Bulgaria’s accession to the European Union has not resolved some important social challenges of the post-communist era, especially concerning real incomes, health care, education, and child care. There is a steady decline in the number of children and an increase in the number of retired people, who already outnumber the adolescents two to one. More than 70 percent of the households in the country have no children under 16.4In these indices Bulgaria equals and even outstrips the most advanced European countries.

  • 5 National statistical institute of Bulgaria (2003) Education in the Republic of Bulgaria http://www. (...)

63In spite of Bulgaria’s traditions in education, the negative natural growth of the population and the low standard of living have reduced the number of students in the schools. another alarming trend is the growing number of children who do not attend school (of about 1 million students, 40,000 have dropped out of school, and about 30,000 have never attended it), as well as the lack of communication between school authorities and parents. The endless reforms and rule changes further reduce children’s trust in the education system.5

64Family foundations are also faltering. The number of children without parents is increasing. About 21 percent of all minors in Bulgaria are raised in one-parent families. Patriarchal family relations still dominate in Bulgaria, in which children are regarded by adults as objects, rather than as equal subjects.

65The use of alcohol and narcotics, cases of HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases, early pregnancies, and abortions are increasing in frequency among adolescents. There is a discouraging pattern of juvenile delinquency, as well as of children suffering from violence (rape, incitement for soliciting and begging, maltreatment in the family, pornography, etc.).

66The social problems of the post-communist Bulgarian society seem to reflect a crisis of values. This gives rise to serious problems in children’s social behavior. Quite unnoticed, a whole generation has grown up with gravely impaired status and rights. Apparently, the society has failed to ensure a safe environment that would encourage the development of children.

67All these problems are only sporadically discussed in the media. Children’s programs and programs on children’s issues are not welcome on TV. Commercial TV currently excludes these societal problems from its daily schedule, most of which consists of content inappropriate for children.

7.9. Legislative framework

68Legislation on the protection of children is well-developed in Bulgaria, especially compared with international and European legal obligations. In 1991 Bulgaria ratified the UN Convention of the rights of the Child. In 2000 the Child Protection act was adopted. In article 11 of the act, a general framework on child protection against violence, presumably originating from the media, was introduced by Bulgarian legislation.6Bulgarian law criminalizes certain acts that are recognized as socially dangerous for minors. These acts are specified in article 159 of the Penal Code.7The provision concerning the creation, publication in any form, and dissemination of pornographic material applies to all types of media (print media, radio, television, information agencies, the internet). This text is in conformity with the constitutional norm of article 40 (2) of the Bulgarian Constitution.8Pursuant to article 37 (4) of the Film industry act, the national Film Classification Commit-tee at the agency classifies films in rating categories.9

69a number of programs oversee children’s welfare, including the national strategy for Child Protection (2004–2006); a strategy for a national Youth Policy in the Period 2003–2007; an integrated national Plan for the implementation of the un Convention on the rights of the Child (2006–2009); a national Program for the development of school education and Preschool instruction and Training (2007– 2015), a number of inter-institutional programs, and programs and initiatives of the non-government sector.

  • 10 Radio and Television act (1998), available at; retrieved April 9, 2007.

70The radio and Television act10also contains texts on the protection of children. Thus, for instance, under the provisions of article 17, subpara. 2 of RTA, “the radio and TV operators must refrain from the creation or distribution of broadcasts in violation of the principles under article 10, as well as of broadcasts inciting national, political, ethnic, religious, or racial intolerance, extolling or justifying cruelty or violence, or aimed at impairing the physical, mental or moral development of the minors and adolescents.” The mechanisms designed to protect infants and minors provide for a specific measure—the introduction of restrictions by time of day, indicating that the broadcasting in any form of programs that may impair the development of children is prohibited within a specified time period (between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m.). Article 76 of RTA normatively provides special requirements for the advertisements broadcast by the radio and TV operators and addressing the minors.

71Within the framework of self-regulation, the adopted ethical rules obligate radio and TV operators to pay particular professional attention in their work to the needs of the child audience (Code of ethics, 2004). Regarding the protection of minors, it specifically stipulates that radio and TV operators must demonstrate special responsibility in respecting the rights of children (2.4.1) and take no advantage of children’s innocence and trust (2.4.2).11

72In 2005, the Foundation national Council for Journalistic ethics was registered. Its main aim was to establish a system for self-regulation of the media by implementing the Code of ethics and resolving arguments between the media outlets and the audience. Co-founders of the foundation were the association of the Bulgarian radio and Television Operators ABRO, the union of Publishers in Bulgaria, the union of Bulgarian Journalists, the Bulgarian Media Coalition, and the foundation Media development Center. The foundation has two standing bodies—an ethics Commission in the Print Media sector and an ethics Commission in the electronic Media sector, which deal with complaints lodged against infringement of the ethics Code.

  • 12 National Council for Journalism ethics (2004) Ethical Code and Ethics Councils, available at http:/ (...)

73The major functions of the ethics Commissions are to oversee whether the Code of ethics adopted by the Bulgarian print and electronic media outlets is complied with, to resolve arguments between the media outlets and the audience, to encourage public debate on issues of journalistic ethics, and to contribute to the establishment of professional and journalistic standards and thus safeguard the freedom of speech and the communication rights and freedoms of the Bulgarian citizens vested in the Constitution of the republic of Bulgaria (national Council for Journalism ethics, 2004).12

74After two years in operation, however, the ethics Commission in the electronic Media sector did not register a single result in protecting minors from harmful content, although TV programming practices demonstrated a number of violations against the Code of ethics.

7.10. Television and children

75Bulgarian children spend an average of three hours a day watching television. Usually this happens at home, and since few families can afford a second TV set, children watch the family’s TV. This, however, does not mean that a parent or an elderly family member always controls what the child watches. Due to their parents’ work schedule, children spend much of the day at home alone, with freedom to watch whatever they wish, regardless of its effect on them. Parental programming controls to automatically block TV programs with inappropriate content are not yet widespread in Bulgaria, and the culture of preventing children from harmful TV influence is still at an embryonic stage. In this sense, it is still an issue what exactly children prefer to watch and whether existing TV programs guarantee the protection of their interests.

  • 13 Bulletin of the Council for electronic Media (2007) Country Report for the 25th EPRA meeting, no. 5

76The liberalization of the Bulgarian audiovisual market gives the children who live in a household with cable TV (their total number is 1,088,805, or less than half of the households in the country) the chance to watch, in addition to the three national terrestrial programs (BNT, BTV, and nova Televizia), a variety of foreign satellite and Bulgarian cable television programs. At present, Bulgaria has a total of 372 natively created program services (150 Radio and 222 TV).13The problem, however, is whether this supply guarantees a wide choice. It does not, because the variety of genres is reduced to a minimum, which can hardly satisfy the cultural, aesthetic, and informational needs of the audience. Once again, the typical paradox of contemporary society is observed: quantitative supply, reduced quality, lack of variety, and limited choice. In the context of TV productions for children, such a mixed situation indicates at least two disturbing tendencies: reduction of the child audience’s possibilities for educational and personal development through television, and the children’s transformation into consumers. The problem gets worse when it comes to children with intellectual, mental, and physical impairments. They are not included in any audience framework, and no TV station produces programs designed to satisfy their specific needs. The quality of children’s TV productions is also a topical issue (Raycheva, 2006).

77Currently, Bulgarian television stations as a whole approach the children’s audience mainly in terms of entertainment. The insufficient production of educational programs in Bulgaria raises the issue of extreme commercialization of the TV landscape. Television programs include much fewer cognitive and educational issues. A notable exception is the satellite educational television ESET, launched in 2003. However, its distribution nationally by cable operators is still insufficient.

78In the absence of high-quality, age-appropriate content, plus insufficient control within the family, children are subjected to cheap, sensationalist film productions full of sexual content and violence, which ac-count for most of the movie offerings on Bulgarian television, especially on cable. Someone under eighteen, who is in the process of building up his or her personal identity, is more suggestible and susceptible to these screen risks. Children have a higher psychological vulnerability, higher credulousness, and higher curiosity; they are also more active consumers of audiovisual media.

79Additionally, TV broadcasters remain in violation of existing requirements. Broadcasters do not offer effective protection of children from inappropriate content; nor do they honor children’s right to watch programs designed for them, thus stimulating their development and encouraging their talents. All this, combined with the uncoordinated actions of the institutions, the civil sector, and the media in Bulgaria confirms the child’s position as a victim of circumstances, not as a member of society who enjoys equal rights of choice and protected interests.

7.11. The practices of the Council for electronic Media

80The Council for electronic Media is an independent and specialized body that enforces the radio and Television act, while at the same time protecting and extending free speech, the free flow of information, and the independence of radio and television operators in Bulgaria.

81Guided by its obligation to protect minors from inappropriate media content, the Council regularly holds discussions with the non-governmental sector and the professional organizations of the radio and TV broadcasters. However, since 2001 the regulator has imposed only twelve out of a total of 359 property sanctions on broadcasters for infringing article 76 of RTA (advertisements violating the generally accepted moral norms); article 17, subpara. 2 of RTA (broadcasts aimed at impairing the physical, mental, and moral development of minors); and the principles under article 10, subpara. 1, point 6 of RTA relating to the “good morals” category.

82A successful blow against the disturbing prevalence of cheap transatlantic programs with content inappropriate for children was triggered in 2002. The Parents’ association objected to the largest private TV broadcaster—bTV—broadcasting the wrestling shows Raw Force and Smack Down during daytime hours. The Council for electronic Media organized public discussion. It then adopted a decision that broadcasting WWF matches containing violence before 11 p.m. contravened the law. It ordered the Balkan news Corporation to comply with the requirements of its licence and terminate those broadcasts before 11 p.m. The CEM based its decision on the grounds that the broadcasts “affect adversely the psyche and behavior of children and teenagers, and have led to a drastic increase in traumas and injuries as a result of imitation of the fights between WWF wrestlers shown on bTV.” The regulatory authority’s decision was appealed by the private television broadcaster on the grounds of censorship of broadcasting. The supreme administrative Court (SAC) found that the CEM decision was a “precautionary coercive administrative measure intended to protect the physical, mental and moral development of infants and minors.” as a result the shows were withdrawn from the daytime schedule.

83Another case is related to obscene chat postings featured in a video clip broadcast by MM, a music channel. The Sofia regional Court upheld the penalty decree issued by the chairperson of CEM, pointing out that broadcasting the video clip constituted an administrative violation of article 17 (1) of the RTA. The court held that children and adolescents “are more vulnerable, their worldview is still unstable, their value system is in the process of formation, and the protection of their health, mental and psychical development, as well as the creation of normal conditions for their moral development is in the interest of the whole society and the state. In this sense, broadcasting obscene and indecent expressions in a broadcast addressed to infants and minors contravenes the principles of upbringing of adolescents and of the formation of a correct worldview, moral principles and value system. This is so because children and adolescents are most susceptible to the negative effects of the uncontrolled dissemination of information and they usually cannot make a free and informed choice of radio or television programme services.” in a judgment dated April 8, 2003, the Sofia City Court upheld the Sofia regional Court’s act, agreeing with its conclusions that “the television broadcaster had the technical possibility to restrict and even to cut the broadcast postings without interrupting the programme service or the broadcast video clip.”

  • 14 Bulletin of the Council for electronic Media (2002).
  • 15 Bulletin of the Council for electronic Media (2003).

84The Council for electronic Media steadfastly supports co-regulation. Following the concerted efforts of the three broadcasting televisions with national coverage, CEM adopted a decision by which it recommends to the operators to prepare and introduce a unified marking system on the principle of “controlled access.”14This is one of the major achievements in the process of media co-regulation. Given the increasing distribution of videos containing profanity and vulgar gestures, CEM adopted a special statement on the need in Protection of Minors and adolescents during Broadcasting of songs in the radio and TV Programs.15

85The CEM adopted also several documents of a preventive nature: a declaration on the increasing Cases of alcohol Poisoning among Minors; a declaration on the Big Brother Program; and a Freedom of the speech Charter in the republic of Bulgaria (2004). Since the international acts and national legislation lack a juridical definition of the “good morals” concept, in 2005 the Council for electronic Media, in partnership with the UNICEF national office in Bulgaria, organized a round table in which numerous aspects of the protection of minors and adolescents from the adverse effects of some radio and TV programs were discussed. Following the discussion, CEM voted a standpoint on the application of the “good morals” concept to protect minors. However, this standpoint was not appreciated by the broadcasters, and the media and CEM had to withdraw it.16

86To summarize: despite Bulgaria’s adoption of quite complex legislative standards, the country’s children are still not effectively protected from harmful media content. According to the RTA, “radio and TV operators shall be held responsible for the content of the programmes they offer for distribution.”17But within the framework of self-regulation, they do not yet apply professional standards effectively when covering scenes of violence and cruelty. Deficiencies in the protection of children’s interests by the mass media generally show through in the lack of technical means for program filtering, programs for children with special needs, programs for at-risk children, access of the children to the media, quality children’s programs, and media pedagogy. It will depend on the adults’ efforts what our children’s Third Parent will offer: teaching the positive, or avoiding the negative.

87That is why CEM is outlining the parameters of a wide-ranging national program intended to address the impact of television on adolescents in a dynamically developing media environment. For the television, this could be achieved at several levels:

  • in the domain of regulation: by adding to the RTA clearly formulated texts demanding from the operators action directed at protecting children from unsuitable content, and setting up fixed volumes (in line with the program profile of the operator) for the distribution of children’s, youth, and educational programs;

  • in the domain of self-regulation: by achieving a broad consensus among all TV operators on the introduction of a unified system for marking programs with unsuitable content for children and of mechanisms for its application;

  • in the domain of programming: by paying special attention to the production and distribution of quality children’s and educational programs which, besides their informative, educational, and entertaining function, would present to the children models of behavior, critical thinking, and perception of the environment, for strengthening the system of values and their national self-awareness, and for upholding the purity of the Bulgarian language.

7.12. Conclusion

88The relationship between “virtual space” and “real space” requires more thoroughness, especially when children stand between the two spheres. The analysis usually concentrates on why and how children and teenagers turn to and use the virtual space, and what is stronger: the interactive cybernetic world, which skillfully applies manipulative techniques to its young users, or the choice of the children, who through the challenges of TV programs, computer games, or chatting, create their own virtual universe, thus gaining their best from what contemporary information and communication technologies offer. The answer by all means contains arguments for both sides as well as examples of temporary victories of each of them.

89Undoubtedly, the information that children receive from the TV screen or the internet increases their intelligence. despite the allegations that illiteracy abounds, that children do not read books, that they are killing their time, and that it is bad for their health, surveys show clearly that in the cyber era children are much more practical, know more, and adapt to their environment much easier. Furthermore, being acquainted with the virtual world (which to a great extent is an imaginary projection of everyday life) makes children feel that they are important and integrated into the real world.

90The other side of the coin, of course, is that virtual screen information damages children’s eyes, debauches their innocent consciousness, promotes antisocial behavior, and also creates a number of indecent habits, the consequences of which children bear in accordance with real-life rules. a balance can be reached by establishing effective rules for visiting the virtual space, and by teaching children sustainable values that will block any encroachment on their psychological and physical health. Establishing such a balance would evidently require effort, as well as concentrated and coordinated efforts of the children themselves, their parents, their teachers, and all institutions and organizations that consider children their priority.

91Contemporary television is a convergent phenomenon, combining the intellectual product with technological potential, market mechanisms, regulatory practices, and response of the audiences. Along with this, television is both a reflection and an embodiment of the post-modern concept, with its key characteristics of fragmentation, intertextuality, simulation, and plurality.

92Considerable progress has been made in the creation of a common EU information space. Telecommunication providers are already offering broadcasting services and content providers—communication services. The goal is for the consumers to be able to watch audiovisual content anytime, anywhere, and on all technical platforms (TV set, computer, mobile phone, personal digital assistant, etc.).

93For many years, one of the objectives in achieving a sustainable democratic environment on a pan-European level has been the protection of children from inappropriate media content. Both the Council of Europe and the European Union have been active and productive in discussing the issue through a number of recommendations, resolutions, declarations, opinions, communications, and research papers prepared to reflect the rapidly changing media sector.

94The new pan-European actions aimed at further promoting media pluralism and content diversity in the audiovisual sector are of major economic, social, and cultural importance. Television is still the most significant source of information and entertainment for 98 percent of the European households that watch television more than three hours per day on average. However, bearing in mind the rapid technological developments in a highly competitive market, a major concern about the vitality of the new regulatory rules might be how long the pillars of Europe’s audiovisual model (cultural diversity, protection of minors, consumer protection, media pluralism, and intolerance against racial and religious hatred) will be protected.


1 It states: “(1) Member states shall ensure that audiovisual commercial communications provided by providers under their jurisdiction comply with the following requirements: (...)

“(e) audiovisual commercial communications for alcoholic beverages must not be aimed specifically at minors as it may encourage immoderate consumption of such beverages;

“(g) audiovisual commercial communications shall not cause moral or physical detriment to minors. Therefore they shall not directly exhort minors to buy or hire a product or service by exploiting their inexperience or credibility, directly encourage them to persuade their parents or others to purchase the goods or services being advertised, exploit the special trust minors place in parents, teachers or other persons, or unreasonably show minors in dangerous situations;

“(2) Member states and the Commission shall encourage audiovisual service providers to develop codes of conduct regarding inappropriate audiovisual commercial communication, accompanying or included in children’s programmes, of foods and beverages containing nutrients and substances with a nutritional or psychological effect, in particular those such as fat, trans-fatty acids, salt/sodium and sugars, excessive intakes of which in the overall diet are not recommended” (European Parliament and the Council, 2007).

2 CSA: La protection des mineurs à la télévision; retrieved April 9, 2007).

3 NICAM: What is kijkwijzer; retrieved April 9, 2007.

4 National statistical institute of Bulgaria (2003): Census, Housing Fund and Agricultural Holdings: Volume 1. Population. Book 4. Households.

5 National statistical institute of Bulgaria (2003) Education in the Republic of Bulgaria; retrieved April 9, 2007.

6 Child Protection act (2000), available at; retrieved April 9, 2007.

7 Penal Code (1968), available at; retrieved April 9, 2007.

8 Bulgarian Constitution (1991), available at http://www.parliamentbg/?page=const&lng=en; retrieved April 9, 2007.

9 Film industry act (2004), available at; retrieved April 9, 2007.

10 Radio and Television act (1998), available at; retrieved April 9, 2007.

11 Code of ethics (2004) (; retrieved April 9, 2007) stipulates: “2.4.1 we shall demonstrate special responsibility in respecting the rights of children, including their right to be heard. “2.4.2 We shall not take advantage of the children’s innocence and trust. “2.4.3 We shall not publish information or photographs about the private life of a child unless there is an overriding public interest. “2.4.4 We shall protect the identity of children involved in or affected by tragedy or criminal activity, in case it might turn out to be harmful. “2.4.5 We shall seek to avoid interviewing children without the consent of an appropriate adult.”

12 National Council for Journalism ethics (2004) Ethical Code and Ethics Councils, available at; retrieved April 9, 2007. Television 155

13 Bulletin of the Council for electronic Media (2007) Country Report for the 25th EPRA meeting, no. 5.

14 Bulletin of the Council for electronic Media (2002).

15 Bulletin of the Council for electronic Media (2003).

16 (; retrieved April 9, 2007).

17 Radio and Television act (1998) (; retrieved April 9, 2007).

Table des illustrations

Titre Table7.1. Recommendations of the Council of Europe on protecting minors
Crédits Source: Council of Europe. Adopted texts. (​t/​cm/​Home_en.asp; retrieved April 12, 2008)
Fichier image/jpeg, 344k
Titre Table7. 2. EPRA meetings connected with the issues of protecting minors
Crédits Source: European Platform of Regulatory Authorities. (​content/​english/​index2.html)
Fichier image/jpeg, 138k


Lilia Raycheva is associate Professor at the Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communication, St. Kliment Okhridsky Sofia University. She was awarded numerous international fellowships, including Fulbright Fellowship. She has been a member of several COST actions, including a30, A20, A19, A30, 298 and IS0604. Her research interests focus on areas of communication, mass media and TV. She has published 5 books; edited 4 books and wrote numerous chapters and articles in scientific journals and academic volumes. She held various positions in international and national bodies including: Member of the standing Committee on Transfrontier Television at the Council of Europe (since 2005); Member of the Council for electronic Media (since 2001); Vice-Dean on International Affairs and Scientific Research (1998–2001); Head of Radio and TV Department (1999–2001). E-mail:

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