Protection Of Minors & Freedom Of The Press

Author:Mr Ricardo Henriques (PBBR.A)
Profession:Global Advertising Lawyers Alliance (GALA)

On September 19th 2017, the Lisbon Court of Appeal confirmed the decision of the Regulatory Authority for the Media ("ERC") to apply a fine of € 20.000,00 to TVI (Televisão Independente S.A.). The referred fine was applied following a participation made against broadcaster TVI regarding the airing, in the eight o'clock news, of a two minute video with footage of the results of an air strike in Syria.

Before broadcasting the video, the journalist indicates that the video was allegedly posted on YouTube by Syrian activists, and that the validity of the images, as well as the testimonies given, were not confirmed. During the 2 minutes, the viewers are exposed to various plans of the destruction caused by the attack, as well as people looking for bodies buried in the debris, and multiple corpses and body parts.

According to the ERC, the broadcast of this video infringes the limitation laid down in Article 27, paragraph 3 of Law 27/2007, July 30th . This article states that the television broadcast of programs that may manifestly, seriously and gravely jeopardize the free development of the personality of children and adolescents, shall not be permitted in a non-conditioned access television channel.

Nevertheless, the broadcasting of this kind of video may be allowed:

If it is broadcasted in a news service; Considering its newsworthiness; If it is presented with respect for the ethical standards of the profession; If it is preceded by a warning about their nature. Such limitations call into question the right of freedom of expression (Article 37, n. 1 of the Portuguese Constitution), the right to information, and mostly the right of freedom of press (Article 6 and 7 of the Law n. 1/99, January 1 and article 26 of the Law n. 27/2007, July 30th).

Being such a sensitive subject and bearing in mind that the definition "of programs that may manifestly, seriously and gravely jeopardize the free development of the personality of children and adolescents is a vague concept", the ERC in its decision-making process, took into account the following points:

If the broadcasting of the war scenario and the potential for destruction and news value are similar, in specific, the fact that children and adolescents do not have the sense of perceiving the information given to them; If the focus given to dead bodies and blood stains on the ground is considered as indispensable to the information content of the particular news; The fact that no prior...

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