Iceland | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2007

2007 Scores

Press Status


Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


Freedom of the press and of expression are protected under Article 72 of the constitution, and the government generally does not interfere in the independent media’s expression of a wide variety of views. There are limitations to these rights, including fines or imprisonment for people who belittle the doctrines of officially recognized religious groups. Additionally, people may face fines and up to two years’ imprisonment for assaults against race, religion, nationality, or sexual orientation.

In January 2006, Gisli Hjartarson took his own life after DV, an Icelandic tabloid paper, printed a photograph and ran a cover story accusing him of sexually abusing teenage boys. As a direct result, members of Parliament proposed a bill to increase damages in libel cases. Public outrage and certain shareholders have pushed for the tabloid’s closure, and in April its circulation was reduced to weekends only.

A wide range of publications includes both independent and party-affiliated newspapers. An autonomous board of directors oversees the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service (RUV), which runs radio and television stations funded by both a license fee and advertising revenue. According to the British Broadcasting Corporation, RUV is obliged to promote Icelandic history, culture, and language. In 2006, RUV switched from being a state-owned institution to a public limited company in an attempt to strengthen its autonomy. Media concentration is a concern in Iceland, with the company 365 controlling much of television and radio broadcasting as well as one of the major national newspapers and several magazines. A media concentration bill, reintroduced during the summer of 2006 (though still pending at year’s end), caps ownership at 25 percent for individuals who own shares in companies that control more than one-third of media markets. In 2006, 87 percent of the country’s population was reported to use the internet, which is unrestricted by the government.