Friday, January 25, 2008


When you consider there aren't even 50,000 people on the Faroe Islands, It's amazing the place has a television network at all. But there it is, Sjónvarp Føroya, the Faroe's public television station. It's the only TV station in the world to broadcast in Faroese. As I mentioned several months ago, The Daily Show can be found on Faroese TV, as well as Malcolm in the Middle and "24." But this week's voyeuristic look at the Faroe Islands concentrates on the country's homegrown programming.

Over the course of a few days, I've had a chance to sample each of SVF's programming (that's what the cool kids call it, SVF), and I understood almost none of it. That's likely because I don't understand Faroese, and SVF's shows are almost exclusively news and talk shows. So it's mostly people in rooms speaking Faroese.

That said, the programs have remarkably high production values when you consider they get almost all their money from a TV license fee. Their evening news show called Dagur & Vika looks like a normal local news program, except it's on a nicer set, more people are wearing glasses, and there are no helicopter shots of high speed car chases.

The network also has a news magazine show called Mentanartíðindi and a talk show featuring, you guessed it, a guy wearing glasses. There's also a program that appears to be a college lecture series, and several church broadcasts.

It's all pretty straightforward, and not every exciting if you can't understand the language. But there are two exceptions.

First is the ten minute news summary for the hearing impaired. SVF is already broadcasting to a tiny audience, and the hearing impaired audience must be a tiny sliver of that. But they broadcast it anyway, and I think that's pretty cool. To be honest this was maybe my favorite thing I saw. The guy sitting behind the desk, apart from using sign language, is making lots of exaggerated facial expressions, the most popular of which seem to be a grimace and frown. I have no doubt these expressions are important to communicate meaning when using sign language. But they looked a little silly coming from a news anchor. Overall, the effect was hypnotizing. I couldn't stop watching. I actually sat through the whole 10 minute broadcast.

The other gem was a children's program called "Krutl." In the episode I saw, a woman and a clown sit in an empty movie theater and shout a lot. Actually, the clown does most of the shouting. Then they were on the side of a fjord scooping fish into a little net. Then more shouting in the movie theater. Next up was a rather long video clip of children nailing together boards in some garage. More shouting in a movie theater follows. The last few minutes are takes up by what I'm assuming is kiddie mystery show called "Klu." I didn't understand any of it, but a lot of it was shot outdoors, and it was fun to actually see some of the scenery and architecture of Torshavn.

In honor of the video nature of this week's Faroe Friday post, I'm forgoing the Faroe photo and instead posting a video clip I found. It's just some guy driving around Vestmanna, but it gives you some small idea what many of the villages look like.

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At 9:47 am, Blogger Ogie said...

Great post Workman. I remember the last time I was there (1974) they had no TV. It was strange for a teenager from USA to come to the Faroe Islands and have NO TV.

Now a days everyone has TVs. They not only have SVF which started in 1984, most people have satilite so they are able to receive TV from England, Denmark and even the USA. My cousins were able to watch the Seahawks' first playoff game. That was strange to be able to talk to them about the game.

At 12:27 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow - watching the clip makes me enter the twillight zone. It's not home...yet I seem to be familiar with every building. Hmmmm!


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