Kijkwijzer and the law
Kijkwijzer warns parents and guardians of children up to a certain age whether a film or television programme may be harmful. To do this, Kijkwijzer and PEGI (Kijkwijzer for games) provide information in the form of warnings. However, there is also a legal side to the Kijkwijzer and PEGI age categories. This is laid down in Article 240a of the Criminal Code. This article states (verbatim): “Any person who delivers, distributes or shows to a minor, who is manifestly under age of sixteen, a pictorial representation or a data carrier containing a pictorial representation of an act which is seen to be damaging to persons under the age of sixteen, shall be liable to a term of imprisonment not exceeding one year or a fourth category of fine.”
By virtue of this article, a cinema operator is committing a criminal offence if s/he allows a person younger than 16 to view a film with the age classification 16 years. Cinema operators are entitled to ask for proof of age or, if they suspect someone may be younger than 16 years of age, refuse admittance to a film with the age classification 16 years.
Video rental shops and shops are also covered by this law: they may not sell or rent out DVDs or games with an age classification of 16 years to persons under the age of 16. From 1 January 2005, it is compulsory for everyone over the age of 14 years to carry a valid proof of identity. The government has stated that Article 240a of the Criminal Code also applies to the other age categories. In February 2009, a voluntary agreement was signed between the sector organisations, NICAM and the Ministry of Justice. The aim of this is to facilitate better implementation of the age categories for audio-visual products in cinemas, shops, video rental shops and libraries. This voluntary agreement states that the 16 years age limit is to be enforced. In relation to the 12 years age category, the person’s age will always be asked in cases of doubt, whereby the answer will be considered to be correct.
In the case of cinemas, the government has provided for an exception that applies to children one or two years younger than the 12 or 16 years age limits, who may be admitted if they are accompanied by their own parent or caretaker. Cinemas are however not obliged to make use of this exception.
Any questions concerning enforcement or reports of failures to comply are not processed by NICAM, but by the Radiocommunications Agency (Agentschap Telecom). Click here for further information or to make a report concerning the implementation of Kijkwijzer and/or PEGI in cinemas, shops, video rental shops or libraries. This will take you to the Dutch Radio Communications Agency website.