On 14 December 2021, The Flemish Regulator for the Media (“Vaamse Regulator voor de Media” or “VRM”) published its new “Content Creator Protocol”. The CCP follows from the further implementation of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (1) in the Media Decreet in May 2021.
The CCP provides Flemish content creators, vloggers and influencers with guidelines on how to put their moving (i.e. videos) content online and focusses on 3 themes:
- Commercial communication on social media platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, Tiktok, Twitch, etc…..;
- Commercial communication and content aimed at minors;
- Prohibition of heat speech and violence.
 Directive 2010/13/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 10 March 2010 on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the provision of audiovisual media services.
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With regard to commercial communications on social media platforms, i.e. communication in which an aural and/or visual mention is made of a brand, product, service, etc. in exchange for any benefit from the company behind this brand, product or service, the CCP imposes quite strict rules. All such communications must contain the following elements:
- at the beginning of the commercial communication, the term “advertentie” or “publiciteit” must be clearly displayed. If the audience consists mainly of non-Dutch speaking consumers, the English “advertising” may also be used. It is not sufficient to place “Ad” or “adv” further on in the communication;
- the company behind the brand, product or service must also be displayed at the beginning of the communication;
- use should be made of the social platform’s “toggle”, i.e. the labels that the platforms themselves make available (such as Instagram’s “Paid partnership with” label).
Moreover, if use is made of a discount code or an affiliate link, the latter must be marked with an asterisk (*) and accompanied by the following message: “*If you buy something through this link, I will receive commission on it.”
As a golden rule, all commercial communications aimed at children and young people must be clearly recognisable as such. If the online content is primarily aimed at children under 12, additional rules apply: product placement must be avoided and sponsor logos may not be shown. If the online content is not suitable for minors, this should also be clearly indicated.
Although it might be obvious, the CCP prohibits any online content which could incite violence or hatred based on gender, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age, or sexual orientation. Furthermore, any form of discrimination is banned and one may not provoke terroristic acts.
THAT IS IT?
No, in addition to these rules, which in principle only apply to online moving content and creators located in Flanders, keep in mind that all advertising must comply with the fair commercial practices and general advertising legislation as defined in the Code of Economic Law. In addition, in 2018, the Jury voor Ethische Praktijken inzake Reclame (JEP) and Het Communicatie Centrum vzw (previously known as the “Raad voor de Reclame”) also published their Recommendation for online influencers which were created in close cooperation with the sector. They have announced to publish new guidelines shortly. Moreover, the FPS Economy supervises and enforces the law for other social media content (i.e. post other than videos), just as for any other commercial practices. Finally, also the CSA (“Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel”, the VRM’s .
Walloon counterpart) is currently drafting its own set of rules applicable to online moving content and creators located in Wallonia.
In other words, more is yet to come. However, according to the VRM the CCP was drafted in close cooperation with – among others – the sector, the CSA, JEP and the FPS Economy, which all have a similar view on the matter. Stayed tuned @Fencer for more information.
FENCER’s lawyers have frequently advised content creators, influencers and companies using their services on all related legal aspects such as contract drafting, content approval and protection of intellectual property. If you wish to obtain more information, please contact Paul Maeyaert or Caro Van Wichelen.