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The Interstate Treaty on the Media: What’s New? What is valid?

The Interstate Treaty on the Media entered into force on November 7, 2020, replacing the Interstate Treaty on Broadcasting that had been in force until then. The renaming of the contract is also immediately one of the most significant indications of what has changed. In addition to numerous new definitions, the Interstate Treaty contains regulations for media platforms, user interfaces and media intermediaries. The new rules are intended to protect diversity of opinion in the convergent media world and involve its “gatekeepers,” such as providers of search engines, smart TVs, voice assistants and social media. Unfortunately, however, media concentration law with its focus on linear television was left unchanged.

Transparency requirements have been expanded for the area of political advertising, which has shown its relevance most recently and currently, in the U.S. presidential election, and have been partially newly introduced for social media. And special opinion-relevant telemedia that regularly feature news or political information will be required to adhere to journalistic standards. In favor of the state media authorities as supervisory authorities, a competence to issue statutes is introduced in several places, in which further specifications for media regulation can be included. Finally, in a joint protocol declaration on the MStV, the German states have already identified areas in need of further reform, e.g., in the protection of minors and in media concentration law.

Perhaps the most interesting changes are:

– The Interstate Treaty on the Media also applies to companies based abroad if they do business in Germany but are deemed to be addressing Germans.
– Telemedia are now defined as “all electronic information and communication services” and are subject to the regulations of the treaty. This applies, for example, to the naming of a responsible person, which was previously now required for editorial content. Definitions for video sharing services, media intermediary, media platform or broadcast-like telemedia are also new.
– What is new is that social bots must be identified in social media.
– Especially for large streamers, etc., it should be important that Section 19 regulates that the “recognized journalistic principles” now apply to them.
– For YouTubers, streamers, but also all others is once again clarified in § 22: “Advertising must be clearly recognizable as such and clearly separated from the rest of the content of the offers. No subliminal techniques should be used in advertising.”
– It is good that § 17 now regulates. “Telemedia are exempt from licensing and registration under the law. The constitutional order applies to the offers. The provisions of the general laws and the legal provisions for the protection of personal honor shall be observed.”

In keeping with my best-selling post on whether Twitch streamers need an imprint, here’s the full ruling:

(1) Providers of telemedia that do not serve exclusively personal or family purposes shall keep the following information easily recognizable, immediately accessible and permanently available:

1. name and address and
2. in the case of legal entities, also the name and address of the authorized representative.

(2) Providers of telemedia with journalistic-editorial offerings in which, in particular, the full or partial content of periodical print products is reproduced in text or images shall, in addition to the information required under Sections 5 and 6 of the German Telemedia Act, designate a person responsible, stating the name and address. If more than one person is appointed, the part of the service for which each person is responsible must be indicated. Only the following may be named as the responsible person

1. has his permanent residence in Germany,
2. has not lost the ability to hold public office by judgement,
3. has unlimited legal capacity and
4. can be prosecuted without limitation.

I’ll try to highlight a few more points over the next few weeks. Not all changes are relevant to the blog. Anyone who wants to can take a look at the new contract here.

Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel is a lawyer and entrepreneur specializing in copyright law, competition law and IT/IP law, with a focus on games, esports, media and blockchain.

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