Freedom of information in decline for past two years in Iceland

first_img What with an interior ministry official seeking jail terms for two journalists in a criminal libel prosecution and major budget cuts for public TV and radio stations that the ruling coalition has accused of bias, the past two years have seen a marked decline in freedom of information in Iceland, one that began with the financial crisis in 2008. Political interests have been having a negative impact on freedom of information in Iceland ever since the 2008 financial crash. Almost all of the leading media editors have had to stand down this year. The only exception is Morgunblaðið editor David Oddsson, who happens to be a former prime minister and former central bank governor. News Vigdís Hauksdóttir, a parliamentarian who is a member of the ruling coalition and chairs the budgetary committee, made typically critical comments about RUV in an August 2013 interview for Radio Bylgjan that was reported by Grapevine. “I think an unnatural amount of money goes to RUV,” she said. “Especially when they don’t do a better job at reporting the news. They are fond of a particular platform, and lean to the Left. Everyone who wants to see that can see it. I assure you this is true, and can confirm it whenever and wherever that (RUV) is very pro-EU.” Þórey Vilhjálmsdóttir, a political adviser to Iceland’s interior minister, is seeking two-year jail sentences for newspaper reporters Jón Bjarki Magnússon and Jóhann Páll Jóhannsson, who wrongly identified her as the source of a leak in story published on 20 June, although they issued a correction within hours. As well as quickly putting out a corrected version naming Gísli Freyr Valdórsson, another interior ministry adviser, as the source of the leak, they issued an apology in the form of a press release circulated to the media. Valdórsson, now on probation, has since been given an eight-month prison sentence for leaking information about a Nigerian asylum-seeker to several news outlets.Gísli Freyr Valdórsson has since been given an eight-month prison sentence for leaking information about a Nigerian asylum-seeker to several news outlets. The editor-in-chief of the broadcasting company RUV was fired along with the rest of its management in the wake of the director-general’s dismissal. 365 Media, the company that owns the biggest TV network, has reduced the number of its newsrooms and fired two of its chief editors, replacing them with the former spokeswoman for its owner’s husband, a leading figure in business circles. Several journalists left the company after the substitution. The pressure is continuing. Foreign minister Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson criticized the way RUV portrayed him in one of its reports. In March of this year, he imposed his own conditions on RUV, refusing to give it interviews unless it sends him a copy of video before it is broadcast. In the end, he was not interviewed at all. At the same time he, too, accused it of being too pro-EU in its coverage.As regards privately-owned media, Hauksdóttir issued a call on Facebook in February 2014 for a boycott of the newspaper Kvennablaðið after it criticized her, and she urged the cosmetics company EGF to “stop buying advertising” in Kvennablaðið. The Union of Icelandic Journalists condemned her calls as “attempts to obstruct freedom of expression.” In a letter, Reporters Without Borders calls on Vilhjálmsdóttir to soften the complaint she has brought against the two journalists, so that it is more proportionate to the actual harm to her reputation.Iceland’s defamation laws have received a great deal of recent criticism from international bodies. The European Court of Human Rights has stressed the extremely negative impact of these laws on journalists and freedom of information, and the disproportionate nature of their penalties, while a recent International Press Institute report called them obsolete. Reporters Without Borders urges Iceland’s government to amend these laws. RSF_en center_img November 19, 2014 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Freedom of information in decline for past two years in Iceland Organisation A public broadcaster funded by a licence fee system until 2007, RUV became a state-owned compagny in 2008, its only share being held by the ministry of culture. A year later, the government assumed direct control of the source of its funding, and thereby direct control of its budget. And in the wake of this loss of structural independence, comments have been made about a lack of editorial independence. Between 2013 and 2014, the ruling right-wing coalition repeatedly criticized the treatment of the news coverage provide by RUV’s TV and radio channels, and used it as an excuse to reduce dramatically its budget. Indeed, the ruling coalition often questions the impartiality of the news coverage provide by RUV’s TV and radio channels, especially their coverage of European news. But a survey conducted by the consumer reporting agency Creditinfo found that positive and negative news reports about the European Union get equal space in RUV’s coverage. Meanwhile, public broadcasting under attack Such comments clearly put pressure on RUV’s journalists. A 20 percent cut in RUV’s budget was announced in December 2013, with the resulting loss of many journalists from RUV newsrooms. The European Broadcasting Union issued a statement condemning the cut, while former RUV director-general Páll Magnússon said: “Viewers will see a difference. Our listeners will hear it. (…) Our ability to provide news to the Icelandic public will be diminished, and newscasts will be shorter and fewer.” Reporters Without Borders regrets that Vilhjálmsdóttir is seeking the maximum possible libel penalty for the two journalists under criminal code articles 234 and 235 – two years in prison, damages of 3 million krónurs (19,000 euros) and legal fees of 900,000 krónurs (5800 euros) – because it would set a disastrous precedent for freedom of information in Iceland. The organization also underlines that the ministry of the interior is also in charge of human rights: Vilhjálmsdóttir should be aware of her responsibilities in the domain of press freedom. Help by sharing this informationlast_img read more

Ex-Olympian’s luxury building set for completion

first_imgFOLLOW SOPHIE FOSTER ON FACEBOOK Initially construction was expected to be complete by the end of 2018, with the final date now set for April this year.Around 100 workers were on site for final completion, he said.“They’re going to install some screens (this week). Once that’s in, (scaffolding) will start dropping.”Mr Stockwell said an enquiry by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission did not hold up construction of the project.The firm last year faced down corporate fraud allegations by a former employee over the Virtuoso Investment Trust — a fully subscribed vehicle through which Stockwell Funds Management was to raise up to $17.3m from wholesale investors, with a forecast return of 15 per cent per annum over a 24 to 36 month investment term. Artist’s impression of the Virtuoso building in West End. Artist’s impressions of the Virtuoso building in South Brisbane, which is expected to have its first residents in by the end of April 2019.A former Olympic swimmer who’s developing a multimillion-dollar block of luxury apartments by the Brisbane River has set a date for first residents to move in.The Virtuoso building in West End is being developed by Stockwell, a family business set up by the parents of 1984 Olympian Mark Stockwell, who was also an elite Commonwealth Games swimmer for Australia as well.Construction of Virtuoso — named because it stands on a site that was “once the home to the Queensland Symphony Orchestra” — began in May 2017, with the initial completion date set for the end of 2018.“We expect construction to be complete in early April and they (residents) will be moving in through April,” Mr Stockwell said. More from newsParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus14 hours agoNoosa’s best beachfront penthouse is about to hit the market14 hours agoSome of the balconies have amazing riverfront views. The Virtuoso vision of a shared space for residents.The Trust’s aim was to give Stockwell finance to develop and build the Virtuoso Riverfront Apartments in West End.“That enquiry we had from ASIC — it wasn’t an investigation but an enquiry — didn’t have an impact on the project or the building. That’s all cleared, and done and dusted, and they’re happy,” Mr Stockwell said.The Courier-Mail reported in September last year that ASIC had sent the firm a letter stating that “based on information received to date, we will be taking no further action” over the allegations.The majority of the 77 apartments set for the development were now sold, Mr Stockwell said.“We’ve got about 10 left which are beautiful.” Video Player is loading.Play VideoPlayNext playlist itemMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 0:58Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -0:58 Playback Rate1xChaptersChaptersDescriptionsdescriptions off, selectedCaptionscaptions settings, opens captions settings dialogcaptions off, selectedQuality Levels720p720pHD432p432p216p216p180p180pAutoA, selectedAudio Tracken (Main), selectedFullscreenThis is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteBlackRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentTransparentWindowColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyTransparentSemi-TransparentOpaqueFont Size50%75%100%125%150%175%200%300%400%Text Edge StyleNoneRaisedDepressedUniformDropshadowFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifMonospace Sans-SerifProportional SerifMonospace SerifCasualScriptSmall CapsReset restore all settings to the default valuesDoneClose Modal DialogEnd of dialog window.This is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.Close Modal DialogThis is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button.PlayMuteCurrent Time 0:00/Duration 0:00Loaded: 0%Stream Type LIVESeek to live, currently playing liveLIVERemaining Time -0:00 Playback Rate1xFullscreenHow much do I need to retire?00:58last_img read more

Sellas Tetteh targets U20 World Cup bronze

first_imgBlack Satellites coach Sellas Tetteh will be looking forward to winning bronze after losing out on a chance at a second FIFA U20 World Cup title following yesterday’s 2-1 defeat to France in the semifinal.Ghana will face Iraq in the third-place match in Istanbul on Saturday.Tetteh, nicknamed “The anointed one”, has put the defeat behind him and ready to end their campaign with a medal.“We are now in the position to win bronze and I don’t see why we shouldn’t go in for it,” the former Rwanda coach said.“We just need to pick the boys up, motivate them and say that look; you cannot go back empty handed. You need to win something as a credit for your effort.”Tetteh, who won the tournament four years ago in Egypt, however admitted his regret for failing to reach the final. “The regret is we couldn’t reach the final but that is football sometimes would not like to blame the goalkeeper because sometimes when a goal is coming it comes at all cost so there is no need to put blame on anyone.”last_img read more