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Icelandic broadcasting turns 90

22.12.2020 - 16:51
Mynd: Willem von de Poll / Þjóðskjalasafn Hollands
Iceland’s national broadcaster this week celebrates its 90th anniversary.

RÚV made its first broadcast on Saturday 20th December 1930 – bringing the modern wonder of radio to Iceland for the first time. The broadcast dropped off air several times and the On Air light broke. Regular programming began the following day and has never stopped since.

Iceland had to wait 36 years for RÚV radio to be joined by the first television station, all the way until 1966. Even then, only for two evenings a week to start with. Iceland had no television on Thursdays all the way until 1987, and television took the whole month of July off every year until 1983—the same year RÚV’s second radio station also went on air for the first time.

The video above shows a snapshot of RÚV's history, from the first announcement in 1930, when Helgi Hjörvar, chairman of the broadcasting council, said: “There has seldom been anything awaited with such anticipation and with more hope in this country than this radio station.”

Later in the broadcast, following technical problems, he added: “Setbacks build strength and may this be a portent that the light illuminated here this evening will shine widely and never go out.”

36 years later, Vilhjálmur Th. Gislason, RÚV Director General, launched television in Iceland: “Good evening. Now, as the first Icelandic television broadcast from RÚV begins, I send greetings to all who see this television and hear it, with the wishes and hopes of the national broadcaster that this shall be the start of a powerful and successful enterprise.” 

Rás 2 would follow in 1983, and around 13 years later.

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