National Broadcasting In Dire Financial Straits - The Reykjavik Grapevine

National Broadcasting In Dire Financial Straits

Published November 3, 2015

Photo by
Haukurth/Wikimedia Commons

Iceland’s national broadcasting company, RÚV, is operating at a loss, and the parliamentary Finance Committee has accused RÚV of deliberate deception.

MBL reports that they have in their possession an e-mail exchange between Ingvi Hrafn Óskarsson – the chairperson of RÚV’s board who resigned from his position last night – and an employee of the Ministry of Finance. Finance Committee vice chairperson Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson told reporters that this exchange shows that RÚV did not actually fulfill the requirements for an additional 182 million ISK being added to their budget. Both he and Finance Committee chairperson Vigdís Hauksdóttir have accused RÚV of engaging in deliberate deception.

Ingvi Hrafn, who denied these allegations last week, tendered his resignation last night, saying that his increasing workload as a lawyer has prevented him from being able to give RÚV the attention that it needs. He thanked both broadcasting director Magnús Geir Þórðarsson and Minister of Education, Science and Culture Illugi Gunnarsson for their “firm support”.

The resignation comes four days after a report initiated by Illugi showed that RÚV has been unsustainable since 2007, and has lost some 813 million ISK over this period of time. RÚV, for their part, have rejected many aspects of the report as being untrue.

In the e-mail exchange, Ingvi Hrafn requests that RÚV not be required to submit a plan of operations, and that RÚV be considered to have fulfilled requirements for additional funding regardless of not submitting such a plan. In response, the Finance Ministry employee says that it cannot be ruled out that the Finance Committee will ask for additional documentation in order to fulfill the funding request.

Finance Committee chairperson Vigdís Hauksdóttir has been vocally critical of RÚV for years, accusing them of being “fond of a particular platform, and lean to the Left. Everyone who wants to see that can see it. I assure you this is true, and can confirm it whenever and wherever that [RÚV] is very pro-EU.”

These remarks sparked controversy, including a circulated petition calling for her resignation and protests. Reporters Without Borders also harshly criticised the Icelandic government’s treatment of RÚV, stating that “Between 2013 and 2014, the ruling right-wing coalition repeatedly criticized the treatment of the news coverage provide[d] by RÚV’s TV and radio channels, and used it as an excuse to reduce dramatically its budget. … Indeed, the ruling coalition often questions the impartiality of the news coverage provide by RUV’s TV and radio channels, especially their coverage of European news. But a survey conducted by the consumer reporting agency Creditinfo found that positive and negative news reports about the European Union get equal space in RUV’s coverage.”

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