Audiovisual industry to introduce more rigorous age checks

Hilversum, 3 February 2009
As from the beginning of 2009, the audiovisual industry is to be more rigorous in checking ages when selling, hiring out and lending out DVD's and games, and admitting audiences to cinema screenings. Shops, cinemas, video (rental) shops and libraries are to enter into an agreement with the Ministry of Justice, in which they will undertake to realise considerable improvements in age checks.   

The audiovisual industry and the ministry are responding through these measures to the outcome of research commissioned by the Ministry of Justice and performed by the Communication Studies department of the University of  Twente. This research revealed that the age limits were being insufficiently enforced; in particular in department stores and toy shops. The age limits are respected considerably more by sectors and companies affiliated to NICAM – such as cinemas and video shops – although even these were still scoring below par. 

The minister and the audiovisual industry want the 16-years age limit for the most serious category of visual material to be strictly enforced. In 2011, this limit must be respected in at least 70 percent of cases. At the same time, additional measures will be taken to achieve complete compliance after 2011. The ministry will provide support in achieving this to the industry in various ways. The Ministry of Justice is examining the options for affiliating more sales outlets to NICAM, including a statutory obligation associated with these options. In addition, NICAM will implement a communication plan, within which instruction and certification of sales personnel will play a central role. The Ministry of Justice will write to all businesses, pointing out this research and the responsibilities of businesses by virtue of Article 240a of the Dutch Penal Code for the protection of young people against harmful visual material. The Ministry of Justice will also investigate ways of tightening up government supervision of compliance.   

A questionnaire filled in by employees working in the audiovisual sector revealed that opinions of Kijkwijzer and PEGI (the age classification of games) are positive, but that personnel do not consider themselves or their employers responsible. The employees questioned placed responsibility on parents and young people themselves. Furthermore, the risk of an inspection was considered small. Experimental research has also revealed that Kijkwijzer and PEGI pictogrammes do not have an attractive effect. It is not the case that young people want to see a particular film or play a particular game simply because it has a higher age limit, or because there are ‘exciting’ pictogrammes on the packaging.

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