Frequently asked questions
Below, you can find the answers to many different questions regarding the Content Creator Protocol.
The Media Decree (or the Decree on radio and television broadcasting of 27 March 2009) is a Flemish decree containing rules for radio and television broadcasting. Following an amendment, the Media Decree has also applied to video platform services (online videos) since May 2021.
The VRM is the independent regulator for audiovisual media in Flanders. In the interest of viewers and listeners in Flanders, the VRM sees to it that the media regulations, set out in the Media Decree, are complied with in Flanders.
The European Audiovisual Media Services Directive was transposed into the Flemish Media Decree in May 2021. As a result, the rules of the Media Decree now also apply to content creators, vloggers, and influencers.
The VRM has developed the Content Creator Protocol in clear and readily understandable language to make the rules set out in the Media Decree uniform and easy to apply in practice.
To this end, the VRM organised several information and consultation sessions with content creators, vloggers, influencers, influencer (marketing) agencies, and marketing agencies.
In addition, the VRM consulted with other public bodies and organisations that are also active on this theme, such as the Economic Inspectorate of the FPS Economy, the Conseil Supérieur de l'Audiovisuel (CSA), the Communication Centre (JEP), and FEWEB.
The Content Creator Protocol became effective the moment it was published. The VRM will initially send content creators, influencers, and vloggers, who post new videos online that do not comply with the regulations a request to comply. In case of further infringements, the VRM has the option to impose sanctions.
An “audiovisual media service” is a service where the principal purpose of the service or a dissociable section thereof is devoted to providing programmes, under the editorial responsibility of a media service provider, to the general public, in order to inform, entertain, or educate using electronic communications networks.
An audiovisual media service therefore has the following characteristics:
- Economic nature
- Editorial responsibility
- Aimed at distributing videos
- Videos are intended for the general public
An audiovisual media service can be either linear or on-demand.
If your channel or profile meets these characteristics, it can be regarded as an audiovisual media service.
There is an economic nature when money is being earned or when another economic benefit is obtained (e.g. products provided free of charge, the provision of personal data by users if the further use of this data generates an economic advantage, the provision of data, and the inclusion of advertising in and around the content).
Providers of an audiovisual media service are not required to have a profit-making aim.
Editorial responsibility means the exercise of effective control both over the selection of videos and over their organisation in a catalogue. If you can decide for yourself whether your videos can be posted to your profile or your channel, then you have effective control.
If my posts do not contain any videos, but instead consist solely of a (series of) still images, photos, or text, do they still need to comply with these regulations?
No, the Content Creator Protocol only applies to your online videos.
To determine the place of establishment, the criteria set out in Article 150/1 of the Media Decree are used.
Your audiovisual media service also comes under the supervision of the Flemish Regulator for the Media if the bilingual area of Brussels-Capital is the place of establishment and the activities belong exclusively to the Flemish Community.
Yes, if your profile or your channel is an audiovisual media service, your online videos should be posted in accordance with the media regulations.
The VRM monitors to what extent videos comply with the provisions of the Media Decree. If this is not the case, the VRM will send individual content creators, vloggers, and influencers a request to comply with the regulations.
If the infringements of these regulations persist, the VRM can initiate formal proceedings on its own initiative (ex officio). Proceedings can also be initiated following a complaint.
The Media Decree provides for sanctions that the VRM can impose in the event of non-compliance with the regulations.
No, the Content Creator Protocol should only be applied to newly posted online videos.
Yes. If the videos posted by content creators, vloggers, and influencers meet the criteria that apply to an audiovisual media service, then the rules of the Content Creator Protocol apply to any social media platform on which these videos are posted.
You can submit an official complaint using the complaint form.
Commercial communications are images with or without sound, or sounds which are designed to promote, directly or indirectly, the goods, services or image of a natural or legal person pursuing an economic activity. Such images or sounds accompany, or are included in, a programme or user-generated content in return for payment or similar consideration, or for self-promotional purposes. Forms of commercial communications include, inter alia, television advertising, sponsorship, teleshopping, and product placement.
You are required by decree to make commercial communications readily recognisable to your followers and viewers. This is to ensure you communicate in an honest and transparent way. Viewers have the right to know if the video they are watching contains commercial communications.
If you have purchased the product or service you mention in your video entirely at your own expense, at the regular market price, without receiving any kind of discount and without any extras, you are not required to label this as “advertentie” or “publiciteit”.
If your video only contains self-promotion and this is clearly evident from the context, you are also not required to label this as “advertentie” or “publiciteit”.
You are engaging in self-promotion when you promote your own products, merchandising under your own management, services, or videos.
There is no self-promotion when, for example, you launch a clothing line together with a brand. If a partner is mentioned, you must label your video as “advertentie” or “publiciteit” according to the regulations of the Content Creator Protocol.
What if I receive a consideration to advertise a recognised charity or to publicise a general interest?
If you receive a consideration, or another benefit from your partner, this constitutes commercial communications. You should follow the regulations of the Content Creator Protocol and label your content as “advertentie” or “publiciteit”.
Is it still considered advertising if the financial consideration I receive amounts to only 5, 20, or 200 euros?
The monetary value of the financial consideration you receive is of no importance. As soon as you mention a product in your video and you receive a consideration, or a benefit from this partner, this constitutes commercial communications.
A company sent me a free or discounted product with just a brief note saying, “Enjoy!”. If I talk about this in my video, do I still have to label it as “advertentie” or “publiciteit”?
Yes, if you mention a product auditorily or visually in your video and you received a benefit (the free or discounted product) from a company, this constitutes commercial communications. The company sends you their product so that you can show it to your followers and viewers. Commercial communications are made readily recognisable by labelling your video in compliance with the regulations of the Content Creator Protocol as “advertentie” or “publiciteit”.
My video is a review of a product that I received for free. Should I also label this as “advertentie” or “publiciteit”?
If your profile or channel is an audiovisual media service and you mention the product in your video, and you have received the product for free from the company, you must label this as “advertentie” or “publiciteit”.
I have been invited to an exclusive launch event and offered a free night's stay for the evening. However, I did not receive any payment. What should I do in this situation?
If your profile or channel is an audiovisual media service and you mention the product, service or brand of the exclusive launch event in your video, you must label this as “advertentie” or “publiciteit”. Invitations to an exclusive event, free overnight stays, dinners, and trips are regarded as benefits as well.
Which regulations do I have to follow if I am asked to organise a giveaway for a company, service, or brand or for a product I was given for free?
If you get a product or service for free or at a reduced price in order to organise a giveaway, this also constitutes commercial communications. You must follow the regulations of the Content Creator Protocol and label your video as “advertentie” or “publiciteit”.
In this case you must also comply with the regulations of the Content Creator Protocol and label your video as “advertentie” or “publiciteit”. You must also mark the affiliate link with an asterisk (*) and you must state following message under the link: “*Als je via deze link iets koopt, krijg ik daar commissie op.” (If you buy something through this link, I will receive a commission.)
The full word “reclame” can be used as well. If your audience predominantly consists of non-Dutch speakers, you can use the full word “advertising”.
No, abbreviations are too unclear.
The full word “advertentie” or “publiciteit” must be placed at the beginning of the description. You can find practical examples for YouTube, Instagram (also for Stories), TikTok, and Twitch here. The label must be clearly prominent when the video starts playing.
Does it suffice to indicate through the feature offered by the social media platform that my video contains commercial communications?
No. You must put the word "advertentie" of "publiciteit" at the beginning of your description, tag your partner(s) at the beginning of your description, as well as indicate via the disclosure feature offered by the platform to disclose that my video contains commercial communications.
What if the social media platform does nog provide any disclosure feature to indicate that a video contains commercial communications?
If it is technically impossible to use an indication via the social media platform itself, then you do not have to do this. Make sure, however, that the word “advertentie” or “publiciteit” is clearly prominent in the description and that you mention your partner(s).
You must label our video as "advertentie" or "publiciteit" at the beginning of the description and then tag your partner(s). Also use the platform's disclosure feature to indicate that your video contains commercial communications.
I play various games in my live streams. These games are often sent to me for free. Should i label my videos as "advertentie" of "publiciteit"?
Yes. If you receive a game for free or at a discount from a company for you to use in your videos, then you have received a benefit and the Content Creator Protocol must be applied.
If I make a video that I share on several platforms, should I indicate on each platform that this video contains advertising?
I post my Twitch live streams, in part or in full, on other platforms afterwards. Should I indicate on these platforms that the video contains advertising?
Yes. Commercial communications for (electronic) cigarettes, refill containers, other tobacco products, medicinal products for human use and medical treatments for humans available only on prescription, weapons and weapon-like toys are prohibited. Also, no commercial communications may be shown which are in conflict with other legal provisions.
Commercial communications for alcoholic beverages should comply with several criteria. For example, they should not be aimed specifically at minors and, in particular, should not show minors consuming these types of beverages. Nor should they suggest that alcoholic beverages have therapeutic qualities or a stimulating, calming or stress-reducing effect. Other criteria can be found in the Media Decree.
According to Article 69 of the Media Decree, commercial communications for sugar confectionery must show a stylised image of a toothbrush in a clear and contrasting manner throughout the broadcast of the commercial communications.
Commercial communications aimed at minors must not encourage or condone the excessive intake of food and beverages containing substances of which the immoderate consumption is not recommended, such as fats, trans-fatty acids, salt or sodium and sugars.
Does the responsibility for mentioning commercial communications lie with the content creator or the partner?
Content creators who post online videos on their audiovisual media service are responsible for that content.
No. You have two options on Twitch to use a clear mention:
Option 1 - Labelling your commercial communications and tagging your partner(s) in the title (“advertentie@partner1” or “publiciteit@partner”1). This mention does not have to be at the beginning of the title, but can be placed wherever you like.
Option 2 - Labelling your commercial communications and identify your partner(s) within your stream. The term "advertentie" of "publiciteit" must be mentioned close to the name/logo of the partner.
If you have several partners in your video, you can use a clear mention for one partner according to option 1 and one according to option 2 for the other partner. Each partner must be mentioned, of course.
What about material that is visible in the background of my stream, such as a partner's fridge, the image of a video game, or a chair?
We consider each case separately. What matters in such situations is the prominence and presence of the brands. If the brand is always prominent, this still constitutes commercial communications. A deliberately placed refrigerator with prominent logos will therefore often require the indication of commercial communications. A gifted game chair, on the other hand, after a one-off introduction and indication of commercial communications, may not require this, as the brand will not gain additional prominence through subsequent streams.
A child is a person under the age of 12.
A young person is a person from 12 years of age to under 16 years of age.
A minor is a person under the age of 18.
You are allowed to offer commercial communications in and around your video. These commercial communications must, however, always be readily recognisable to them as such. Stricter regulations also apply to videos aimed specifically at children under 12.
What other regulations do I have to comply with if I use advertising aimed specifically at minors, young people, or children?
See Articles 71-77 of the Media Decree.
Yes. Your audiovisual media service must, however, be independent of any political party.
Information videos, announcements and videos with a general informative slant, as well as all informative video components, must be provided in a spirit of political and ideological impartiality.
Yes, this is allowed, provided the YouTube channel is not regarded as an audiovisual media service.
Yes. However, commercial communications must always be readily recognisable to viewers.
Yes. If your profile or channel is an audiovisual media service, you must make your commercial communications readily recognisable as such with the labels “advertentie” and “publiciteit”. However, your audiovisual media service must be independent of any political party.
You can contact us using the contact form or at [email protected].
You can contact us at [email protected].