From Iceland — Björn Ingi Hrafnsson Becomes Chair Of DV's Board

Björn Ingi Hrafnsson Becomes Chair Of DV’s Board

Published December 18, 2014

Haukur Már Helgason
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DV stockholders’ meeting, held this Wednesday, voted for Björn Ingi Hrafnsson as the Chair of DV’s board. This was reported by Kjarninn. Media under Björn Ingi’s control have, so far, been based on very different editorial policies than DV’s critical and investigative reporting. Björn Ingi’s plans for DV remain to be seen.

Critical, investigative, irritating

The news medium DV, operating on print and online, is seen by many as a crucial source of critical and investigative reporting. Among other things, in November 2013 the paper initiated the coverage of the leaked Interior Ministry document, a scandal which, a year later, led to a Minister’s resignation. DV kept covering the case while other major daily media outlets did not. Adversely, some of the Government’s supporters have seen DV as an ongoing nuisance. Earlier this week, for a recent example, the Government’s Press Secretary called Grapevine to notify journalists, among other things, that he does not consider DV a trustworthy source.

Earlier this autumn, DV went through a takeover, carried out by declared opponents of its now former editor-in-chief, Reynir Traustason. At the takeover’s conclusion, Reynir was laid off. The new, temporary owners then sold the majority of the medium’s shares, around 70%, to Björn Ingi Hrafnsson’s firm Vefpressan. According to Kjarninn, the Icelandic Competition Authority has since authorised co-ordination of the media’s functions, while the two publishers’ potential full merger depends on the outcome of the authority’s ongoing investigation.

Media Mogul Millionaire Björn Ingi

Björn Ingi Hrafnsson is a former member of the Reykjavík City Council on behalf of the Progressive Party, which leads the Republic’s current coalition government. Before Running for City Council, 2003–2004, Björn Ingi served as assistant to Halldór Ásgrímsson as then Foreign Minister, later Prime Minister. In 2009, Björn Ingi founded the online daily Vefpressan, the firm behind the medium, later acquired the news medium, and now DV.

In the extensive report of the Special Investigative Commission (SIC), to investigate the advent and reasons of Iceland’s 2008 economic crash, Björn Ingi was cited as one of three alleged journalists who had enjoyed preferential treatment by financial institutions. SIC recommended that the Special Prosecutor’s office would investigate Kaupþing’s loans to Björn Ingi totalling at around 500 mi ISK (ca. €6 million at 2007’s currency rates, €3 million post-2008). At the time he was granted the credit, Björn Ingi was employed as a business journalist. Following the publication of SIC’s report, Björn Ingi temporarily stepped down as Pressan’s editor-in-chief, but has since returned. Since this year, he also hosts a weekly political talk-show, broadcast by Stöð 2.

SIC’s nine-volume report, widely hailed as a landmark achievement, was written in Icelandic and, so far, remains untranslated.

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