Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle der Filmwirtschaft

The Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle der Filmwirtschaft (FSK, Voluntary Self Regulation of the Movie Industry) is a German motion picture rating system organisation run by the "Spitzenorganisation der Filmwirtschaft" (SPIO, Head Organisation of the Movie Industry) based in Wiesbaden.


The main tasks of the FSK are approving and rating movies and trailers, videos and DVDs, and commercials.

There is no legal obligation for approval by the FSK; however, members of the SPIO commit themselves to only releasing productions passed by the FSK.

The legal basis for the actions of the FSK are a youth protection law (JuSchG, Jugendschutzgesetz), the holiday regulations and basic principles of the FSK. These principles are issued by the Basic Principles Commission, consisting of 20 representatives from the film and video industry, public authorities and state-funded broadcasting stations governed by public law.

The FSK takes into account whether or not a film is shown on certain specially protected holidays mentioned in the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany. These are Good Friday, All Saints, Memorial Day, Buß- und Bettag (Penance Day) and also Totensonntag (the German Remembrance Sunday).

The FSK is financially autonomous and funds its work through fees from every inspected media carrier. It is operated as an affiliate of the SPIO in the form of a private limited company; however, the SPIO does not influence its decisions.


Ratings since 1 April 2003

Since April 1 2003 the ratings are based on § 14 JuSchG (Jugendschutzgesetz, youth protection law). [] Changes were the allowing of a parental guidance rule for "Freigegeben ab 12 Jahren" and the replacement of "Nicht freigegeben unter 18 Jahren" with "Keine Jugendfreigabe".The ratings are usually printed on the back covers of DVDs, VHS cassettes and other media in form of rectangular labels. The labels are approximately 10 mm x 10 mm with rounded corners and a black border lining. The printed text and background color is shown below.

PIO/JK certificates

If a movie does not comply with FSK basic principles (eg glorification of violence), a rating can be denied. A movie which is not rated by FSK is checked for possible violation against applicable law by a jurist agency (Juristen-Kommission, JK) of the Spitzenorganisation der Filmwirtschaft (SPIO). The JK compiles certificates for the reviewed movies. Approved movies get the label "SPIO/JK geprüft". This label is rectangular, black and white, with "SPIO/JK geprüft" printed on. The movie must be handled like a movie rated with "Keine Jugendfreigabe". Some of these movies may additionally be indexed (blacklisted) by the German Testing Centre for Youth-Endangering Media as well.

Former ratings

Before April 1 2003 the ratings were based on § 6 and 7 JÖSchG (Gesetz zum Schutze der Jugend in der Öffentlichkeit, law for protecting youth in public). Differences were:
*"Freigegeben ab 12 Jahren" was only released to age 12 or older. There was no parental guidance rule.
*"Nicht freigegeben unter 18 Jahren": not released to under age 18, abbreviation FSK 18, since April 1 2003 replaced with "Keine Jugendfreigabe".The design of the rating labels was the same.

1957 - 1985 "Freigegeben ab 18 Jahren": released to age 18 or older, replaced by "Nicht freigegeben unter 18 Jahren", has the same restrictions.

tructure and mode of operation of the FSK

Over 190 inspectors work for the FSK on a voluntary, unpaid basis. They are appointed by the movie and video industry and the public authorities for three years, and must have experience in dealing with children and minors or have similar factual knowledge of psychology or media studies. The inspectors may not be employed by the movie or video industry, to avoid biased decisions. Therefore when appointing inspectors, importance is attached to the fact that these inspectors should come from different occupational fields and social classes.

The rating of movies is carried out by various committees. These are the Working Committee, which does most of the inspections, the Main Committee, acting as a court of appeal, and the Appeals Committee, for appeals to the youth inspection. In practice, the three committees work in parallel.

The working committees are the first ones in the FSK to inspect each film that is registered. Normally each consists of seven inspectors — three from the movie industry and four named by the public authorities — as well as a representative of the country's youth authorities.


After World War II Erich Pommer, the former UFA film producer and then Film Officer in the American occupation zone, was in charge of rebuilding and reorganizing the German movie industry. Together with film director Curt Oertel and Horst von Hartlieb, the director of the movie rental association in Wiesbaden, Pommer developed a voluntary self inspection system for the movie industry modelled on the Hays Code in the USA. The goal of this institution was to avoid governmental regulation of the movie industry and to replace the effective military censoring: "And here was our first thought, because we had a bad experience in the Third Reich: to build a self-organized film inspection system, because a federal film inspection system is always in danger of starting to control political attitude."(Horst von Hartlieb)

Moreover, youth protection played no role in admission to movies of the occupying powers, so children and minors had unrestricted access to movies. Because of this, at the start of 1948 the German secretary of education of the western occupied zones set up a commission to answer the question of whether young people were endangered by movies. It was intended to develop suggestions for nationwide youth protection connected to films. The work of this agency began in the Hessian ministry for culture in Wiesbaden. As well as the representatives of the other countries' secretaries of education, representatives of the movie industry, the churches and the Katholische Jugend Bayern (Catholic Youth of Bavaria) were also invited to the hearing.

The result of the hearings was the establishment of the fully self-governed entity known as the FSK. The first film was handed over for inspection on July 18 1949. On September 28 1949 the allied military agencies officially transferred the inspection authority to the FSK.

The countries of the Soviet occupational zone did not take part in the FSK, since the film inspection there was taken on by the government of the GDR, formed in the same year.

When the German Youth Protection Law was amended in 1985, the mandatory rating was broadened to include new media (video films and comparable picture media). The "German Association Video e.V." (e.V = membership corporation) followed the FSK, to inspect all released video films. In the same year, the rating "Freigabe ohne Altersbeschränkung" (Universal) was added.

During German unification the new federal states followed the FSK and sent their representatives to the board of inspectors.

Since 1995, any digital media containing film sequences have been inspected for their rating as well.

The movie " [ Sophie Scholl – Die letzten Tage] " was the 100,000th film inspected by the FSK on December 9 2004.

See also

* Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Medien
* Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle Fernsehen
* MPAA film rating system
* OFLC, the New Zealand media rating system
* Hays Code
* Censorship

External links

* [ FSK home page (in German)]

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