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Release: Immediate

Icelandic professor to speak about television, cultural identity

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- An expert on mass communication and its effects on cultural identity will visit the University of Iowa Nov. 19-22 to work with students and professors in the departments of sociology and communication studies as well as the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Thorbjorn Broddason, a professor of sociology at the University of Iceland, has studied a variety of mass communication topics and has conducted a 30-year study of children and television in Iceland. On Friday, Nov. 20, he will speak about "Television as a Vehicle of Literacy - But Only for Some," in Room W113 Seashore Hall. The presentation begins at noon and is free and open to the public. Those who attend this "brown bag seminar" are invited to bring their own lunches.

Part of Broddason's 30-year television study examined the impact of Iceland's policy of limiting the number and type of television channels available in the country as a way of minimizing external influences on the Icelandic people.

Stephen Wieting, UI associate professor of sociology, has worked for several years with Broddason and other faculty members at the University of Iceland. Wieting said Broddason's work has been influential in shaping some of the nation's policies regulating media and communications channels. "The country's resistance to mass media such as commercial television and cable is part of a long tradition of maintaining a strong national identity," Wieting said. "Iceland has a highly-educated population, but has been selective in modernizing because of its reluctance to open avenues for external intrusion."

Broddason studied at the University of Edinburgh and completed his graduate training at the University of Lund. He has held several government advisory posts on media policy in Iceland and within the Nordic Block.

The UI and the University of Iceland have had a cooperative exchange agreement since 1985, Wieting said. Every year students and faculty from the two institutions spend time studying and conducting research at the sister institution. Broddason's visit is part of that continuous exchange and is being sponsored by the UI department of sociology and UI International Programs.

For more information, contact Wieting at (319) 353-2364 or (319) 335-2502.