In the middle of October The Duran reported on the UK’s NatWest bank moving to freeze the accounts of RT.
The Duran’s Peter Lavelle noted at the time…
No explanation was given and any form of recourse denied. Since NatWest refuses to elaborate on its decision, I feel free to speculate what is behind this move. It can be summed-up in one word: censorship.
The UK has endowed the world with a rich legacy regarding basic human rights, including freedom of expression and a marketplace of ideas. It would appear that rich legacy is being abandoned. Instead of competing for the hearts and minds of the public, Britain’s authorities prefer a monopoly on all public discourse.
Two weeks after the initial move by NatWest to unjustly shut down RT UK with no explanation or causality, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is reporting that NatWest Bank UK “persists in its intention to close the RT accounts, thereby creating an objective obstacle to the channel’s further functioning.”
— Russia in RSA ?? (@EmbassyofRussia) October 31, 2016
When pressed by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs the British representatives at the OSCE Permanent Council tried to justify the shutting down of RT UK based on “low ratings”…something that every viewer of RT knows is not only out of the question, but a flat out lie, given the popularity of the channel.
We only wish the UK government and its crony bank would grow a pair, and just admit that they are trying to shut down RT’s operations in the UK because the United States and VP Joe Biden gave then the order to do so.
If the UK government would admit to this, then at least we could respect their honesty, even though the world would openly despise their censorship and lack of sovereignty.
At our initiative, this issue was raised with the British side at the latest meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council. Our partners’ reasoning to the effect that the UK Government supposedly has nothing to do with these development is, mildly speaking, dubious, given that the ROYAL BANK OF SCOTLAND, of which NATWEST is a subsidiary, is 70 percent government-owned. It is also indicative that the British tried to justify their behaviour by alleging that RT had “low ratings” in the United Kingdom. This argument is not only doubtful – according to statistics, RT has over 4 billion YouTube views – but also calls for questions: If a Russian TV channels becomes more popular than a British one, would it be closed for certain? It is also odd that a British bank (if it is after all a bank that is behind the mess) should count ratings rather than money.
Actions of this sort, combined with a clear bias against the Russian TV channel demonstrated by the UK media regulator, OFCOM, are part of attempts to oust from the British media space an internationally popular broadcaster that offers an alternative point of view on global affairs.
We hope that the UK authorities will prove in practice their declared commitment to the principles of media freedom and will take steps to facilitate a solution to this problem.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.