Freedom of the Press - Iceland (2006)
|Publication Date||27 April 2006|
|Cite as||Freedom House, Freedom of the Press - Iceland (2006), 27 April 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/473451c328.html [accessed 8 March 2014]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Legal Environment: 1
Political Influences: 4
Economic Pressures: 4
Total Score: 9
Life Expectancy: 81
Religious Groups: Lutheran Church of Iceland (85.5 percent), other (14.5 percent)
Ethnic Groups: Homogeneous mixture of descendants of Norse and Celts (94 percent), population of foreign origin (6 percent)
The constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press, and the government generally does not interfere in the independent media's expression of a wide variety of views. The offices of Frettabladid, the largest daily newspaper in Iceland, were raided by police in October 2005 after an injunction was issued banning the newspaper from publishing e-mails and documents related to fraud charges that were lodged by an Icelandic court against the retail investment firm Baugur. Baugur owns a controlling share of the Nordurljos (Northern Lights) Corporation, which owns Frettabladid. The International Federation of Journalists warned the Icelandic government that the raid endangered press freedom in the country.
A wide range of publications includes both independent and party-affiliated newspapers. An autonomous board of directors oversees the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service, which operates a number of transmitting and relay stations. There are both private and public television stations. However, media ownership is concentrated, with Nordurljos controlling much of the private television network, most radio stations, and two out of three of the country's national newspapers. A proposed law to restrict media ownership was vetoed in the summer of 2004 and was the cause of one of the country's most severe political crises. The BBC reported that in 2005 the two main parties urged the national Parliament to pass legislation to reduce media concentration. Internet usage is high at 78 percent of the population and access is unrestricted by the government.