While researching for a piece that he was writing last week, Mark ran across a few fascinating tidbits about Iceland’s national television station, RÚV, in Professor Björn Ægir Norðfjörð’s Ph.D. dissertation, “Icelandic Cinema: A National Practice in a Global Context.” Interesting enough to share, I thought:
- RÚV came into existence in 1966 as a direct result of the U.S. Army Base in Keflavík. The U.S. wanted to make television signals available to their soldiers stationed at the base, so at first, although television hadn’t made it to Iceland yet, the U.S. soldiers were allowed to have a localized signal provided that it remained very weak, so as not to be available outside of the base. However, the signal wasn’t even working on the base, so it was strengthened, which meant that people in Keflavík and Reykjavík could then receive it as well. (We’re not sure where their TVs came from.) Many Icelanders, including notable nationalists like Halldór Laxness, strongly opposed the idea that Icelanders be watching American broadcasts, especially with no Icelandic alternative. So RÚV came into existence so there would be an Icelandic television channel for Icelanders to watch instead.
- It wasn’t until the late 80s that RÚV broadcast during the entire month of July, or on Thursdays. Again, this is the *only* Icelandic television station, and was probably the only station that most Icelanders received (I don’t know, but I’m assuming that international broadcasts weren’t readily available). Imagine the hysteria if suddenly all television in the US was simply not available one day a week, and also for an entire month in the summer.