Filing a complaint with the Independent Luxembourg Broadcasting Authority

The Independent Luxembourg Broadcasting Authority (Autorité luxembourgeoise indépendante de l’audiovisuel – ALIA) oversees the proper application of the regulations in force pertaining to audio- and audiovisual media (AV media) services (standard television; on-demand service; international, national, regional and local radio) and public film screenings (cinemas, open-air showings, etc.).   

Who is concerned

Any viewer, listener or organisation may lodge a complaint about the content of an audio or AV media service, or of a public film screening.

Additionally, in the case of a film screening, representations may be made to ALIA by the Ombuds-Committee for Children's Rights (Ombuds-Comité fir d’Rechter vum Kand - ORK). ALIA may also choose to take action at its own initiative, on the basis of information brought to its attention, regardless of the medium in question.

Deadlines

Complaints must be lodged no later than 1 year after the offending AV or audio programming item was broadcast.

Costs

Complaints may be filed, and will be dealt with, at no cost to the complainant.

How to proceed

ALIA's goals

ALIA is charged with the oversight of audio and audiovisual media services.

Its purpose is not to interfere in editorial or programming choices made by audio and AV service providers (TV and radio), but rather to intervene after a programme item is broadcast.

Thus, it is vested with the power to sanction but not the power of censorship.

In the case of a film screening, ALIA checks the rating of the work by cinema operators or any other organiser of a public screening, and ensures that the rating restrictions are upheld, including on the display boards indicating ticket prices and where to collect tickets. The aim is to provide viewers with the information they need to make an informed, responsible choice about the films they watch.

ALIA also monitors observance of advertising-related regulations, both in terms of content (protection of minors, ban on advertising tobacco and certain drugs) and length of messages.

Content of the work

A complaint may be lodged if the content of the proposed programme or work of cinema in question:

  • incites hatred or conveys discrimination on the basis of race, gender, opinion, religion or nationality;
  • violates legislation relating to the protection of minors; or
  • contains aspects of pornography, violence, horror, drug/alcohol abuse, foul language, etc.

Lodging a complaint

Any person or organisation who feels affronted by the content of an audio- or AV programme or film screening may file a complaint online, or send it to ALIA by post, e-mail or fax.

In all instances, the complaint must be in writing, in English, French, German or Luxembourgish.

The complaint must contain certain details, such as:

  • the complainant's first name and surname (or business name), and their residential or business address;
  • the name of the provider of the audio- or AV programme, or the organiser of the film screening;
  • the programme (date and time of broadcast and description of content) or film, advert or trailer to which the complaint pertains;
  • a brief summary of the criticisms levelled at the piece.

Once the complaint is recorded by ALIA, the complainant will receive a confirmation of receipt.

Admissibility of the complaint

For the complaint to be considered admissible, it must satisfy a number of conditions:

  • the conditions relating to its form must be observed (written complaint, compulsory information about the complainant and the programme or work concerned, procedure) as must the time limit (one year after the broadcasting for AV or audio programmes);
  • the provider of the AV or audio programme/the organiser of the film screening in question and the element of the programme/film, advertisement or trailer at issue must be within the remit of ALIA;
  • the assessment of the criticisms must be within the remit of ALIA.

If the complaint is not admissible, the complainant is notified accordingly (where possible). If it is admissible, the case will be investigated.

Investigation

AV or audio programme

The director of ALIA in charge of the investigation informs the provider of the programme of the proceedings instigated against them, and requests a sound or audiovisual recording of the element of the programme in question.

The director then compiles all the relevant information to guide the Council's decision. He/she assesses whether an offence is deemed to have taken place, and if so, determines the exact nature of the offence. If the complaint pertains to a potential violation of legislation relating to the protection of minors or human dignity, the director seeks the opinion of the ALIA Consultative Committee, which is made up of 25 delegates from the organisations most representative of social life and culture in Luxembourg. The provider may be asked for further explanations at any time, and external experts may be brought in to back up the parties' testimony.

Film screening

In the event of a film screening, the director of ALIA determines whether the offence is deemed to have taken place, and if so, what the exact nature of that offence is. He/she takes a statement from the operator in question, and asks the members of the Consultative Committee to issue an opinion if the file relates to the protection of minors or human dignity.

If need be, outside experts may be called in to testify.

The director then submits the file to the ALIA Administrative Council for a decision.

Decision of the council

Audio or AV programme

The ALIA Administrative Council may:

  • dismiss the complaint without further proceedings, if it is deemed to be baseless: the parties are informed accordingly; or
  • consider that it is unable to reach a decision at the current stage of the process: it may then ask the director to conduct further investigations; or
  • rule that an offence may have been committed: the provider of the audio or AV programme is then summoned to defend their position, and/or is invited to submit their explanations in writing. Once the adversarial procedure has been completed, the Council will either decide to dismiss the matter or impose a legal sanction. That sanction is communicated to the provider by registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt.

The final decision is published on the ALIA website. The complainant is also informed, by post, of the decision.

Film screening

In the case of a cinematographic work, the ALIA Administrative Council may decide to:

  • dismiss the complaint without further proceedings, if it is deemed to be baseless: the parties are informed accordingly; or
  • re-rate the film: in that case, ALIA informs the organiser of the decision via e-mail the very same day, and by registered post on the first working day following the decision, at the latest; or
  • find that a criminal offence has been committed: the file is forwarded to the Public Prosecutor's Office.

The final decision is published on the ALIA website and, if need be, in the press. The complainant may also be informed, by post, of the decision made.

Who to contact

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