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RÚV facts for kids

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Type Television, radio and web
Country Iceland
Availability National; International via satellite (Thor 5) and online (selected programmes)
Motto RÚV okkar allra (RÚV of all of us)
Revenue 7.9 billion ISK
Net income 174 million ISK
Headquarters Reykjavík
Owner State-owned
Key people Stefán Eiríksson (director general)
Launch date 1930 (incorporation; radio)
1966 (television)
Language Icelandic

Ríkisútvarpið (RÚV) (pronounced [ˈriːcɪsˌuːtvar̥pɪð] or [ˈruːv]) (English: 'The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service') is Iceland's national public-service broadcasting organization.

Founded in 1930, it operates from studios in the country's capital, Reykjavík, as well as regional centres around the country. RÚV operates an online news service, which is the fourth most visited website in Iceland. In 2016, 88% of Icelanders consumed RÚV content every week.

The service broadcasts an assortment of general programming to a wide national audience via two broadcast radio stations: Rás 1 and Rás 2; and one full-time television channel of the same name, RÚV. A supplementary, part-time TV channel, RÚV 2, transmits live coverage of major cultural and sporting events, as required, as well as some Icelandic programmes with English subtitles. RÚV also distributes online-only channels content for children and the elderly.

RÚV is funded by a flat earmarked government tax collected from every income tax payer, as well as from on-air advertising. All of RÚV's content is free-to-air and open in Iceland.


The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service commenced operations in 1930 with the launch of Icelandic state radio, Útvarp Reykjavík (Radio Reykjavík). RÚV has been a full active member of the European Broadcasting Union since 1956. In 2023, RÚV announced the retirement of its longwave transmissions by 2024.


Longwave broadcasts

Útvarpstöðvar - Icelandic Radio stations - 1981
Icelandic radio transmission network in 1981.

RÚV began radio broadcasting on longwave in 1930 at Vatnsendhæð, near Reykjavík. In 1938, the transmitted power was increased 100kW. In 1991, the original 1930 longwave transmitter tower at Vatnsendi collapsed. As a result, later in the decade the Hellissandur longwave transmitter was taken into use, converted from a LORAN-C mast.

In 1938, the first medium-wave broadcasting in Iceland commenced in East Iceland at Eiðar. In 1966, the transmitter was converted to longwave, at a power of 20kW. In 1998 the mast was reconstructed at a height of 220m and its power increased to 100kW, at 207kHz.

RÚV has announced the retirement of its longwave transmissions by 2024, citing its inadequacy as a backup service as most vehicles and radios do not support longwave broadcasts anymore. In 2023, the Eiðar longwave transmitter was demolished, ceasing 207kHz transmissions.

Shortwave and medium-wave broadcasting

Shortwave broadcasts were used for long distance transmission, mostly for seafarers and Icelanders abroad. They were used intermittently for important broadcasts. Shortwave broadcasts ceased on 1 July 2007, after the introduction of satellite broadcasts. Smaller medium-wave repeaters were previously operated for areas which were poorly served by the longwave service.

FM broadcasting

FM broadcasting began in 1959 at its main Vatnsendi site, later expanding nationwide. Stereo transmissions began in 1980. In 1983 RÚV's second radio station was launched, Rás 2. The original station was then renamed Rás 1. In 2023, as a result of LW transmissions retiring, RÚV committed to expanding the FM network further.

In 2004, RÚV launched a non-talk, automated classical and jazz radio station called Rondó, based on the word rondo. In 2020, Rondó was discontinued on FM (due to the closure of Vatnsendi site) but continued on DVB and on the internet.


Icelandic TV transmitters 1981
RÚV TV transmission network in 1981.

RÚV commenced television transmissions in 1966, and colour transmissions began in 1977. In 1981, the first live satellite programmes were broadcast, from the then-newly inaugurated satellite ground station Skyggnir.

Since 1986, the year in which its monopoly as the only permitted domestic broadcaster ended, RÚV has faced competition from a number of private broadcasting companies, most notably the 365 corporation.

RÚV's teletext service, Textavarpið, was inaugurated on the 25th anniversary of Icelandic television in 1991. As of 2023 it is still operating.

Satellite broadcasting started in May 2007 by RÚV from Intelsat 10-02 satellite with a frequency of 11182 V 3100 7/8. This was later moved to the Thor 5 satellite.

Digital television began broadcasting in 2013. Television was broadcast in analogue until the digital switchover in 2015, when the last analogue transmitter at Vatnsendi was switched off. The analogue transmissions used a network of 180 analogue transmitters.

In 2021, television transmissions for the Reykjavík area were moved from Vatnsendi to Úlfarsfell, ending 70 years of broadcasting from the location.


RÚV is obliged by the terms of its charter to "promote the Icelandic language, Icelandic history, and Iceland's cultural heritage" and "honour basic democratic rules, human rights, and the freedom of speech and opinion". It carries a substantial amount of arts, media, and current affairs programming, in addition to which it also supplies general entertainment in the form of feature films and such internationally popular television drama series as Lost and Desperate Housewives. RÚV's lineup also includes sports coverage, documentaries, domestically produced entertainment shows, and children's programming.

The RÚV newsroom, providing news for both television and radio, is amongst the most time-honoured and respected in Iceland. On weekdays, the Rás 2 radio network includes 35 minutes of regional opt-outs for local news coverage.

Gettu betur is a popular annual quiz tournament pitting teams from senior secondary schools around Iceland against each other in five rounds which are broadcast on radio and TV. Popular viewing also includes the Eurovision Song Contest, to which RÚV has sent participants on Iceland's behalf since 1986. In sports, RÚV traditionally carries live coverage of such major events as the Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup, although it lost the right to broadcast the 2006 World Cup, having been outbid by commercial broadcaster 365 in 2002. It did, however, show the 2010 World Cup tournament.


RÚV broadcasts two linear television channels and three radio stations, each with a certain target market. In accordance with its duty as a public broadcasting service, Sjónvarpið, the television network, broadcasts a news bulletin in Icelandic Sign Language for the deaf and hard of hearing. In addition, the Rás 1 radio channel broadcasts detailed weather reports for the benefit of Icelandic seafarers and others.

Television channels

RÚV 2 2019 logo
RÚV 2 logo (2019)
  • RÚV Television (also known as Sjónvarpið) – main channel with generalist programming
  • RÚV 2 – part-time "special events" channel
  • KrakkaRÚV – an online service aimed at children and young people, launched in 2015

Those who watch television on the internet outside Iceland can only watch selected programs on RÚV and RÚV 2 channels due to broadcasting rights.

Radio stations

Rondó 2019 logo
Rondó logo (2019)
  • Rás 1 (Channel 1) – News, weather, current affairs, culture
  • Rás 2 (Channel 2) – Pop and rock music
  • Rondó – Non-stop classical music and jazz (DVB, digital and web only)


As of 2023, most of the population accesses RÚV through the internet. FM radio broadcasts remain popular however, 30% of Icelanders listen to Rás 1 and 61% listen to Rás 2 in a given week. This can be attributed to Iceland's high car ownership.


RÚV's radio stations, Rás 1 and Rás 2, are broadcast on FM through a network of 230 FM transmitters. RÚV intends to strengthen its FM network over the coming years in light of their plan to closing their longwave services in 2024.

RÚV currently broadcasts on longwave at 189 kHz using Western Europe's tallest radio mast, the Hellissandur longwave radio transmitter. The longwave broadcast is a mix of Rás 1 and 2 content. The longwave transmissions are intended to fill gaps in the FM coverage, serve the Icelandic fishing fleet and serve as an back up during emergencies. RÚV has announced the retirement of its longwave transmissions by 2024, citing its inadequacy as a backup service as most vehicles and radios do not support longwave broadcasts anymore.

The radio stations are also broadcast on DVB-T2, as well as through internet radio. There are no plans to implement DAB radio in Iceland.


The television network, RÚV and RÚV 2, is broadcast terrestrially in 1080i HD on a DVB-T2 network operated by Vodafone Iceland by contract until 2028. The broadcasts are free-to-air and reach 99.9% of the population. According to a 2022 survey, only 1% of the population uses terrestrial broadcasts to watch RÚV.

The main TV channel RÚV and radio stations Rás 1 and Rás 2, are also broadcast on satellite on Thor 5, mostly to cater to the Icelandic fishing fleet. They are also contracted to run until 2028.

Due to the prevalence of fiber internet connections in Iceland, the most popular way to view broadcasts is through the internet. RÚV is available through managed IPTV systems on Síminn and Vodafone. RÚV also offers all of its content on their website, as well as through OTT services. RÚV also offers an app for Apple TV, iOS, Android TV and Android.

Share of distribution channels
Distribution method Market share
Terrestrial broadcasts (DVB) 1%
IPTV set-top box (Síminn/Vodafone) 64%
OTT services (e.g. Apple TV app) 27%
Website 7%
Other 1%

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: RÚV para niños

  • List of Icelandic television channels
  • Television in Iceland
  • RÚV (television channel)
  • Rás 1
  • Rás 2
  • Telecommunications in Iceland
  • Internet in Iceland
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