If the national broadcasting service RÚV is to be taken off the advertising market, its funding must be secured through other means, according to RÚV’s General Director. “I am in favour of finding ways to improve the environment of the national media, as we all want a thriving private media alongside the ballast which is a powerful state media,” Magnús Geir Þórðarson General Director of RÚV told Vísir. The results of a survey earlier this week showed that the majority of the public wants to see less state advertising activity or that RÚV, the state broadcasting company, should perhaps disappear entirely from the advertising market, breaking a decades-old tradition and a major source of income to the state broadcaster. Lilja Alfreðsdóttir, Minister of Education, has plans to do just this but announced that the income loss would be completely made up for to ensure that RÚV’s services are not reduced.
“RÚV as an entity has no opinion on how it should be funded, as this is a political question,” says Magnús Geir. “On the other hand, the surveys confirm that the public makes extensive use of RÚV services and does not want to see these services impaired.”
Magnús Geir points out that surveys confirm that Icelanders are quite satisfied with RÚV’s service and people’s attitude regarding the state broadcaster is more positive now than it has for many years. He wants the media market as a whole to be examined in light of major changes in the external environment of national media with the advent of foreign content providers, such as the BBC and CNN. “In order to be able to provide this comprehensive service to the population, especially as the means of communication has become increasingly complex, it is important that total revenues are not cut and that the independence of the public service is ensured.”
The Minister of Education and Culture has announced that RÚV will indeed disappear from the advertising market, but also announced that the expected revenue loss would be made up for and that RÚV’s services will not be reduced. Magnús Geir and the Minister have discussed these issues regularly. “We have agreed on the fundamentals that form the basis of powerful national media. Likewise, we agree on the emphasis changes that have occurred on RÚV in recent years with increased emphasis on national content, cultural material and services for children through KrakkaRÚV [Kids’ RÚV], ”he says. “It’s nice to be able to say that national content has increased by 23% in the RÚV program at the same time as American content has decreased by 45% over the last five years. The debate on RÚV financing arrangements will undoubtedly continue, but the main premise must be that RÚV can continue to play an important role in Icelandic society.”
He believes that funding must come from other means if advertising revenue is reduced and if RÚV services are not to be reduced. “In my opinion, it has rarely been important, but now Icelanders have a wide range of quality Icelandic material available in the Icelandic language, as a plethora of foreign entertainment material in foreign languages is available through foreign content providers and social media,” says Magnús Geir.
“We as a nation have a strong desire to see that new generations will be brought up with stories and other content in the Icelandic language, from Iceland itself.” To that end, RÚV has increased a significant proportion of national content in the program, strengthened national cultural coverage as well as more programs for children than ever before. “At the same time, those watching and listening to RÚV services has increased a lot and is now the highest its been in years. The supply of Icelandic-made material is likewise more than we have seen for decades. All this is important now that foreign entertainment is so close. In order for us to continue to perform this important service, the total revenue of the RÚV must not be reduced. “