Gender-based violence: Belgian CSA launches code to tackle sexist commercial communications

posted on 19 October, 2022   (public)

A co-regulatory tool to fight gender-based harms 

[NEW] Updated version with link to English version of the code of conduct

The Advisory Board* of the Belgian Conseil Supérieur de l'Audiovisuel (CSA) adopted on 14 July 2022 a "Code of conduct on commercial communications sexist, hyper-sexualised and based on gender stereotypes". Set within the framework of the French-speaking Community of Belgium's government strategy "Women Rights 2020-2024", this code is the result of several working group sessions with broadcasters, advertisers, experts and representatives of the civil society.

This co-regulatory code aims at encouraging the media sector, and thus indirectly the advertising sector, to actively fight against gender-based harms. Based on a thought-out and broad definition of sexism, the CSA intends to enhance the deconstruction of gender stereotypes in audiovisual commercial communications.

The Code in a nutshell:

The code only applies to audiovisual media services as defined in the AVMS Directive, thus including linear and nonlinear services with editorial control.

The code is built on a broad spectrum of gender-based harms (sex assignment, sexualisation, intersectionality, objectification, idealised representation of the body or also gender or sexist stereotype) and includes some of the Council of Europe and United Nations definitions, Further to the code, the audiovisual media services providers:

  • commit to refrain broadcasting commercial communications depicting or containing gender-based harms;
  • are encouraged to deconstruct gender-based stereotypes in their self-promotion and on-air design;
  • appoint a "gender and commercial communication" officer.

In line with a co-regulatory and inclusive spirit, a committee gathering representatives of the broadcasters and the CSA will be established for the next five years to monitor the implementation of the code, discuss and exchange on the methodology to use, the good practices and to assess the impact of the tool.

In addition, the CSA intends to provide training to broadcasters and to draft a practical guide with examples and case-studies to illustrate the commitments of the code.

* The Advisory Board ("Collège d'avis") is a co-regulatory body of the CSA aimed at providing advice on any issue related to the audiovisual sector, including commercial communications. 

Source: Website of the CSA