Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle der Filmwirtschaft  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

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


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

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