Icelandic National Broadcasting Service (Ríkisútvarpið, RÚV) is a public service organization established in 1930. Based in the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik, it broadcasts throughout the whole country and nearest fishing grounds. RÚV has two television channels, two radio stations, and a digital radio program only accessible online. Additionally, it provides “round the clock” news online. According to its own reports, RÚV’s services are used by as many as 92% of Icelanders weekly.

Media assets

Television: RÙV (Sjónvarpið), RÙV 2; Radio: Rás 1, Rás 2; Internet/digital radio: Rondó

Ownership and governance

RÚV’s operations are regulated by the Act on Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. RÚV is a Public Limited Company (PLC) owned by the Icelandic state. Its nine executive board members are nominated by the Parliament and elected during the General Assembly each year. Parliament can nominate more persons. The broadcaster’s staff can also nominate two candidates. According to RÚV, the board is responsible for the company’s operations and for ensuring that the legal provisions in the RÚV Act are complied with.

Source of funding & budget

RÚV is funded through a combination of television license fee and advertising sales. In 2021, revenues from commercial operations (mostly advertising) was ISK 2.37 bn (US$ 18.7m) whereas the grant from the government (raised through the television fee) was worth ISK 4.6bn (US$ 36.8m), according to the latest annual report from the company. Although in our methodology, we consider the license fee to be a form of public contribution, different from government funding, the fee for RÚV, paid by all Icelanders aged 18 to 70, is collected by a government directorate, which then uses the revenues to make a grant to the broadcaster. In Iceland, the funds from the state to the Icelandic public broadcaster are referred to as government payouts.

RÚV handles its ad sales through a subsidiary, RÚV Sales.

Editorial independence

There are no signs of editorial control by authorities in RÚV. The broadcaster prides itself as an independent public service broadcaster. Its work is guided by a series of public service principles, such as its role to inform and educate, that are enshrined in the Act on Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. According to NGOs such as Reporters Without Borders (RSF), and Freedom House, RÚV’s editorial independence is protected by an effective legal framework.

The Media Commission, Iceland’s independent media regulator, carries out annually an independent assessment of whether RÚV has fulfilled its public service obligations.RÚV also carries out a spate of activities aimed at communicating with its public as often as possible. According to its 2021 strategy, RÚV is planning to radically open up to the public by organizing focus groups, carrying out in-depth analysis of audience data and inviting the public to provide ideas for programs during the so-called “pitch days.”

August 2022

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