The Conseil Supérieur de l'Audiovisuel (CSA) – the broadcasting regulatory authority – adopted a decree on December 20 2011 to define new locking measures for the provision of Category V programmes (prohibited or not recommended for viewers under 18 years of age) through on-demand audiovisual media services.

This new decree replaces that of December 14 2010 (for further details please see "Protection of minors: ratings rules extended to on-demand audiovisual services"), despite changes being made only to Section II-D relating to the distribution of Category V programmes.

The new scheme provides for a generalised locking system based on a secure personal identification code.

Category V programmes must be provided exclusively within pay services (ie, subscription or pay-per-view) and in an isolated area reserved specifically for that category.

Access to Category V programmes is subject to a specific locking system, available only to users with a configured personal code which they must enter each time that they wish to gain access. The locking tools are permanently active and cannot be disabled by users.

The CSA has highlighted three features of the new scheme:

  • Secured access to configure a personal identification code – each viewer must configure a personal code (of at least four digits, excluding a series of zeros) within the subscription management space if he or she is a subscriber; if he or she is not a subscriber, payment identification must be provided. This code must not be visible on screen and will block the would-be user after five failed attempts.
  • Electronic declaration of age – the viewer must declare that he or she is of age before being invited to create a code.
  • Reinforced information – once a code is chosen, a pop-up message will verify the configuration and a confirmation will be sent to the viewer by either email, post, text message or telephone, along with precise information on the operation of these locking measures.

The decree of December 14 2010 previously limited broadcasting of Category V programmes on subscription services to a specific time slot (between 10:30pm and 5:00am), unless the subscriber's age was verified by the submission of a copy of his or her identification card. These time-slot restrictions have now been lifted. The new measures apply to all types of service (subscription and pay-per-view) and the implementation of a security wall with a personal password has further been generalised.

The CSA has indicated that these new obligations on service providers will come into force in July 2012.

For further information on this topic please contact Philippe Allaeys at Nomos by telephone (+33 01 43 18 55 00), fax (+33 01 43 18 55 55) or email ([email protected]).