Iceland | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2008

2008 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. However, 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 March 2007, Icelandic singer Bubbi Morthens won US$11,000 in a libel case against gossip magazine Her og nu. In June 2005, the magazine featured a cover image of the singer smoking a cigarette and insinuated falsely that he had resumed using drugs. There were no reports of physical attacks against journalists in 2007.

The country’s wide range of publications includes both independent and party-affiliated newspapers. Icelandic National Broadcasting Service (RUV) runs radio and television stations funded by both a license fee and advertising revenue. RUV was reestablished as a public corporation in March 2007 after having previously operated as a state-owned institution; the switch is expected to help ensure the organization’s autonomy. Nonetheless, according to the British Broadcasting Corporation, RUV is obliged to promote Icelandic history, culture, and language. Media concentration is a concern in Iceland, since the company 365 controls much of television and radio broadcasting as well as one of the major national newspapers and several magazines. In 2007, 85 percent of the country’s population (down from 87 percent the previous year) was reported to have used the internet, which is unrestricted by the government.