Television in Iceland

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Television in Iceland is currently composed of the public broadcasting service of RÚV, five free-to-view channels and a number of subscription channels provided by private broadcasters. Broadcasts began in 1955 when the American Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS) started an English-language television service broadcasting from Naval Air Station Keflavik, which operated until 2006. The first Icelandic-language television broadcasts started in September 1966 with the launch of RÚV, originally called Sjónvarpið ("The Television"). In 1986 the first privately owned TV station, Stöð 2 ("Channel 2"), began broadcasts. In recent years the emergence of foreign internet streaming services such as Netflix and Disney+ has seen shift from domestic providers provide similar on demand streaming services such as Síminn Premium and Stöð 2+.[1]

Channels can be received via digital terrestrial DVB-T/T2, digital satellite DVB-S and through IPTV providers such as Síminn and Vodafone. Over-the-top streaming via domestic and foreign providers is also increasingly used.

The digital switchover occurred in 2015 when the last RÚV analog transmitter was shut down.[2]


The first television broadcasts commenced in 1955 by the American Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS) from the Naval Air Station Keflavik. A small transmitter broadcasting at 50W on the VHF band was not intended for the local population, but nevertheless locals began installing antennas and buying US television sets to receive the broadcasts. This created concern among some local politicians and prominent individuals, claiming it would weaken Icelandic language and culture. In 1961, the power was increased to 250W. Opposition to the American broadcasts were countered by 14,000 locals, who had come to enjoy the American programming, who signed a petition demanding it stay on air. Eventually, the AFRTS ceased its terrestrial broadcasts and built a private cable TV network in 1974.

The Icelandic state public broadcaster, RÚV, began transmissions in 1966 using PAL standards over the VHF band. Colour television broadcasts began in 1973. The first satellite ground station, Skyggnir, opened in 1981 which allowed the first international live TV events to be broadcast in 1986.

Stöð 2, the first private subscription TV service, began encrypted broadcasts in 1986 via terrestrial VHF which required the use of a decoder.

Throughout the late 1990s, local cable TV services began operating in some towns such as Keflavik, Hafnafjörður, Hella and Húsavik, offering international channels and programming. Síminn began installing cable TV networks in some areas of Reykjavík from 1997. As of 2021, most cable TV networks in Iceland are defunct and have been replaced by IPTV services.

Digital Island (now Vodafone Iceland), began over the air digital MMDS broadcasts in built up areas in 1999.

By the early 2000s, fiber and ADSL broadband became widely available, which led to the deployment of managed IPTV systems in 2004 by Síminn followed by Vodafone Iceland. This allowed many new domestic and international channels to become available to households. Iceland leads the world in IPTV subscriptions, with over 65% of households using such services in 2014.[3]

In 2007, RÚV began direct satellite TV broadcasts using the Thor 5 satellite over DVB-S, in order to service fishing fleets around Iceland and remote areas where the terrestrial network does not reach. Telenor runs the service by contract until 2028, this service is encrypted and is only available on request.

Digital terrestrial HDTV broadcasts commenced in 2014 following an agreement signed between public broadcaster RÚV and Vodafone Iceland on 27 March 2013 to install and run two new shared digital multiplexes using DVB-T/T2 over UHF bands, with 99.9% population coverage.[4]

Analog transmissions ceased in 2015 and MMDS transmissions in 2016.[5]

List of channels[edit]

Free-to-air channels[edit]

The following channels are freely available on DVB-T/T2 terrestrial television.[6]

Channel name Owner/parent company
Stöð 2 - Vísir Sýn
Omega Christian television Omega Kristniboðskirkja

Free-to-view channels[edit]

These channels are free to view via IPTV providers Siminn and Vodafone or through encrypted DVB-T broadcasts from Vodafone.[7] Some channels provide OTT internet streaming via connected TV apps or their website.

Channel name Owner/parent company
K100 Morgunblaðið
Sjónvarp Símans Síminn
Alþingi Government of Iceland

Subscription channels[edit]

Channel name Owner/parent company
Síminn Sport Síminn
Síminn Sport 2 Síminn
Síminn Sport 3 Síminn
Síminn Sport 4 Síminn
Stöð 2 Sýn
Stöð 2 Bíó Sýn
Stöð 2 eSport Sýn
Stöð 2 Fjölskylda Sýn
Stöð 2 Besta Deildin Sýn
Stöð 2 Besta Deildin 2 Sýn
Stöð 2 Sport Sýn
Stöð 2 Sport 2 Sýn
Stöð 2 Sport 3 Sýn
Stöð 2 Sport 5 Sýn
Stöð 2 Sport 6 Sýn

Defunct channels[edit]

  • Stöð 2 Krakkar
  • Stöð 3 - Icelandic general television channel, owned and operated by Sýn.
  • ÍNN - Owned and operated by Ingvi Hrafn Jónsson
  • iSTV
  • NFS, now a news service providing news for and television channels of 365
  • Skjár tveir, was meant to be an ad-free channel paid for by the viewers. It didn't go as planned and soon merged with Skjár einn.
  • Stöð 1, launched 29 Oct 2010. Entertainment channel, free to air, non-subscription. Reaches 98% of all households in Iceland.
  • Stöð þrjú, the old channel was used. But was bought quickly and shut down in the meaning, it was replaced by Stöð 2.
  • Skjár sport, showed Premier League matches for the seasons 2005–2006 and 2006–2007.
  • Stöð 2 Extra (previously called Sirkus) Entertainment channel previously available as free but is now only available as a complement to Stöð 2 subscription
  • Nova TV (previously called Sirkus and before that Popp Tíví), music videos – free channel
  • Fasteignasjónvarpið, a channel that offers real estate
  • Mikligarður, opened 15 March 2014 – closed 1 July 2014. Intended for ages 34+ with an emphasis on females. Programming was all domestic and included paid presentations. Broadcasts was 24/7 and in HD.
  • Hringbraut
  • N4 (2008-2023) a station which was based in Akureyri with a free-to-view channel.
  • Tónlist, a non-stop music channel by Sýn.

International channels available in Iceland[edit]

Additional international channels are available in Iceland through Vodafone Iceland[8] and Síminn:[9]

Channels Owner
NRK1 Norway - NRK
NRK2 Norway - NRK
NRK3 Norway - NRK
SVT1 Sweden - Sveriges Television
SVT2 Sweden - Sveriges Television
DR1 Denmark - DR
DR2 Denmark - DR
KVF Faroe Islands - Kringvarp Føroya
BBC Nordic BBC Worldwide
BBC News BBC Worldwide
Rai 1 Italy – RAI
Rai 2 Italy – RAI
Jim Jam Euro AMC Networks International UK
Travel Channel AMC Networks International UK
Food Network AMC Networks International UK
CBS Reality AMC Networks International UK
CNN International Warner Bros. Discovery
Cartoon Network Warner Bros. Discovery
Boomerang Warner Bros. Discovery
E!Entertainment Comcast
CNBC Comcast
National Geographic Channel National Geographic Partners
BabyTV Fox Networks Group
Sky News Sky Group
Animal Planet Discovery Networks Northern Europe
Discovery Science Discovery Networks Northern Europe
History Channel A+E Networks UK
Discovery Channel Discovery Networks Northern Europe
ID (Investigation Discovery) Discovery Networks Northern Europe
TLC Discovery Networks Northern Europe
LFC TV Liverpool F.C.
MUTV Manchester United F.C.
Premier League Channel UK
TVE Internacional Spain – RTVE
TVP Polonia Poland – Telewizja Polska
mezzo France - Groupe Canal+
Eurosport Discovery
Eurosport 2 Discovery
Arte ARTE GEIE, ARTE France, ARTE Deutschland TV GmbH
Prosieben Germany – ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE
SAT1 Germany – ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE
ZDF Germany – independent nonprofit institution
ARD Germany
France 2 France - France Télévisions group
France 24 France – France Médias Monde
M6 France – Groupe M6
Ginx UK - Ginx TV Limited
MTV 00s ViacomCBS Networks EMEAA
BOX Hits UK - The Box Plus Network
Magic ViacomCBS Networks EMEAA
Disney Channel The Walt Disney Company
Disney Junior The Walt Disney Company
Bloomberg US - Bloomberg L.P.
Fox News US - Fox Corporation
CCTV-4 China - CCTV
CGTN Documentary China - CCTV

Overview of Icelandic TV[edit]

TV appearances[edit]

Test card for RÚV[edit]

The testcard of RÚV was the PM5544, introduced in the 1970s.

Text has been changed three times, minor change five times, returned two times

  • 1970–1994 – "RUV – ISLAND"
    • 1993 – "RÚV – ÍSLAND"
  • 1995 – Added time and date
  • 2000 – Remove time and date
    • Remove "ÍSLAND" and replace with the moving bar
  • 2002 – Return the 1995 version[citation needed]
  • 2006 – Return the 2000 version[citation needed]
  • 2009 – Changed to PM5644

RÚV's testcard uses test tone but the last 15 minutes before programs start plays classical music.

Closing and opening times[edit]

RÚV still closes down at night.

  • 1966–2018 opens at 16:30 for weekdays and closes at 00:00.
  • 1966–2004 Weekends and holidays open at 9:00, though sometimes with midday break.
  • 2004–2018 Weekends and holidays open at 8:00.
  • 2018-present Opens at 13:00 for weekdays and closes at 01:00.
  • 2018-present Weekends and holidays open from 07:15[10]
  • Nightscreen during other times
Stöð 2[edit]
  • 1986–1988 opens at 8:00 and close at 23:00.
  • 1988–1995 opens at 6:00 and close at 0:00.
  • 1995–present open 24 hours.


  1. ^ "Eitthvað fyrir alla á Stöð 2 Maraþon". (in Icelandic). Retrieved 2021-05-17.
  2. ^ "Slökkt á hliðrænu dreifikerfi RÚV á mánudag". (in Icelandic). Retrieved 2021-05-17.
  3. ^ Ský (4 May 2014). "Framtíð IPTV á Íslandi" (PDF).
  4. ^ "Þjónustusvæði Sjónvarps". Vodafone (in Icelandic). Retrieved 2021-05-18.
  5. ^ "Dreifikerfi". RÚV (in Icelandic). Retrieved 2021-05-18.
  6. ^ "Dreifikerfi". RÚV (in Icelandic). Retrieved 2021-05-17.
  7. ^ "Þjónustusvæði Sjónvarps". Vodafone (in Icelandic). Retrieved 2021-05-17.
  8. ^ "Vodafone - Framtíðin er spennandi. Ertu til?". Retrieved 2023-06-25.
  9. ^ "Sjónvarp Símans er lykillinn að öllu því skemmtilega | Síminn". (in Icelandic). Retrieved 2023-06-25.
  10. ^ "Dagskrá | RÚV". Retrieved 2022-03-04.

External links[edit]