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

Most Fed Districts Report Positive Residential Real Estate and Economic Activity

first_img Tagged with: Beige Book Federal Reserve Housing Market Residential Real Estate U.S. Economy Share Save Home / Daily Dose / Most Fed Districts Report Positive Residential Real Estate and Economic Activity The Best Markets For Residential Property Investors 2 days ago Data Provider Black Knight to Acquire Top of Mind 2 days ago Servicers Navigate the Post-Pandemic World 2 days ago Sign up for DS News Daily Subscribe The Week Ahead: Nearing the Forbearance Exit 2 days ago The Best Markets For Residential Property Investors 2 days ago Governmental Measures Target Expanded Access to Affordable Housing 2 days ago Brian Honea’s writing and editing career spans nearly two decades across many forms of media. He served as sports editor for two suburban newspaper chains in the DFW area and has freelanced for such publications as the Yahoo! Contributor Network, Dallas Home Improvement magazine, and the Dallas Morning News. He has written four non-fiction sports books, the latest of which, The Life of Coach Chuck Curtis, was published by the TCU Press in December 2014. A lifelong Texan, Brian received his master’s degree from Amberton University in Garland. Related Articles Demand Propels Home Prices Upward 2 days agocenter_img Most Fed Districts Report Positive Residential Real Estate and Economic Activity Beige Book Federal Reserve Housing Market Residential Real Estate U.S. Economy 2015-09-02 Brian Honea Servicers Navigate the Post-Pandemic World 2 days ago Previous: Fannie Mae’s First Community Impact NPL Pool Goes to New Jersey Non-Profit Next: MERS Granted Motion for Summary Judgment in Texas Court; Lien Reinstated Data Provider Black Knight to Acquire Top of Mind 2 days ago Governmental Measures Target Expanded Access to Affordable Housing 2 days ago in Daily Dose, Featured, Market Studies, News For the reporting period of July through mid-August, the Federal Reserve reported in its August 2015 Beige Book released Wednesday that economic activity continued to expand across most regions and sectors, while the majority of reports on residential real estate markets across the 12 Fed districts were positive.Six districts reported moderate economic growth since the previous Beige Book was issued in mid-July, five districts (New York, Philadelphia, Kansas City, Atlanta, and Dallas) reported modest growth, and one district (Cleveland) reported only slight growth, according to the Fed.The reporting period for the latest Beige Book found widely improved existing home sales and residential leasing, while most areas saw an increase in home prices. The Fed found improved residential real estate activity across all districts; home sales and prices increased in every district. In Richmond and Kansas City, sales of lower- and medium-priced homes outpaced sales of higher-priced homes, while the demand for multi-family homes was more robust in Cleveland, Richmond, and San Francisco.Robust demand and declining inventory were the driving factors behind the increase in home prices, according to contacts in most Fed districts. Inventories in nearly all districts declined or stayed flat, except for Kansas City, where they slightly increased. Contacts in Boston, New York, and Richmond reported bidding wards among buyers due to low inventory.”Overall, the residential outlook was positive, with the majority of Districts expecting this increased activity to continue.””New York and Dallas both indicated that prices have climbed for low- to medium-priced homes but price pressures are softer for higher-priced properties,” the Fed said in the report. “Rental markets remained strong nationwide. Overall, the residential outlook was positive, with the majority of Districts expecting this increased activity to continue.”Reports of residential construction activity were mixed; it increased for some districts but was moderate or flat in Boston, Philadelphia, Richmond, Minneapolis, and Dallas. In Cleveland, contacts attributed the increased construction activity to an expected rise in interest rates later in the year, improved labor conditions, and higher consumer confidence, according to the Fed. At the same time, the Cleveland contacts reported supply-side constraints and difficulty obtaining financing for construction, with similar reports coming from the Boston district.Click here to view the entire Beige Book that covers the period from July to mid-August. September 2, 2015 1,234 Views About Author: Brian Honea Demand Propels Home Prices Upward 2 days ago  Print This Postlast_img read more