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Media For a long time there was only one radio station in Iceland, the state-run RÚV – the National Broadcasting Service founded in 1930. Broadcasting was off to a slow start, at first the broadcast was only four hours a day, and the first fifty years there was only this one channel, Channel 1. In 1983 RÚV opened the second channel for broadcast, Channel 2, focusing more on entertainment and music while Channel 1 specialized in programs and news. When new broadcasting laws lifted the state's monopoly on radio and television broadcasting, the first privately owned radio station opened in 1986 and soon others followed. According to law, the National Broadcasting Service must foster the Icelandic language, the country's history and cultural heritage, provide general news services and be a platform for different opinions, in addition to providing diverse material for children. RÚV is the only mass medium that employs a language consultant to instruct staff in correct use of language, and has a language policy. Channel 1 broadcasts more literary programs than any other radio station, and programs dedicated to literature are at least a weekly event. Theatrical performances on radio have a long history and started almost as soon as RÚV began broadcasting, becoming a regular feature by 1937. Radio plays were an important part of Icelandic theatre well into the twentieth century, or until the arrival of television and later film. It was an opportunity to introduce the nation to numerous foreign plays, classic works, and contemporary plays, but Icelandic playwriting for radio didn't really take off until the 1950s and 1960s. The main objectives of RÚV's Radio Theatre is to create a progressive theatre of sound that reflects Icelandic reality in an exciting way and satisfies the audience's curiosity about new international trends, to sustain an interest in classical culture and continuous revaluation of the message it brings to new times. Many of the nation's most prominent writers and promising new talents have lent a hand, and around ten new plays are performed each year.

Literature trail


university of iceland The collection of poems preserved in the medieval manuscript Codex Regius (King's Book) is often called the Poetic Edda. The manuscript is part of the collection preserved at the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies at the University of Iceland. The long poem Hávamál (The Words of Odin) largely contains words of wisdom and advice, some of which are still part of common discourse, carrying meaning far beyond the simple words themselves.


One of Reykjavík City's and its partners aspirations with the City of Literature status is for book publishing and literary discussion in media to become more evenly dispersed over the year, and a permanent and constant feature in cultural debate. In 1966 RÚV started its first television broadcast, and as before took it slowly, only broadcasting two nights a week, and for many years there was no television on Thursdays nor during the whole month of July. In 1986 the first private television channel, Stöd 2, started broadcasting and since then smaller networks have come and gone, but in the past decade RÚV, and the private stations Stöd 2 and Skjár 1 have been regular features in the country's television landscape. In addition to these three, there are a few local television and radio stations in some parts of the country. The main television program for literature is Kiljan on RÚV. Coverage of literature is rather poor in Icelandic television, and it is the unanimous hope and ambition of those involved in this submission that Reykjavík as a City of Literature could influence and put a pressure on broadcasters to change this. Three daily newspapers are published in Reykjavík; Morgunbladid and DV rely on subscriptions but Frétta­ bladid is distributed free of charge. In addition, there is the weekly newspaper Frétta­tíminn, weekly business paper, Vidskiptabladid, and the English language paper The Reykjavík Grapevine, that is published once or twice a month. All of these papers feature literary reviews and discussion to some extent. Several literary magazines are published in Iceland. The oldest publisher in Iceland, Hid íslenzka bókmenntafélag (founded in 1816) has published the journal Skírnir since From Hávamál Young was I once and went alone, and wandering lost my way; when a friend I found I felt me rich: man is cheered by man Translated by Lee M. Hollander

UNESCO City of Literature

Reykjavik City of Literature - Submission  
Reykjavik City of Literature - Submission  

Reykjavik City of Literature - Submission