‘If we put up with this, what’s next?’ – author of petition against closure of RT’s UK bank accounts

It’s important to stand up against NatWest’s decision to close RT’s UK bank accounts, said British journalist Oliver Tickell, who launched a petition protesting the move, while asking “if we put up with this, then what’s next?”

The journalist pointed out that RT has been “tremendously successful” in providing an alternative take on events for its UK viewers, who “appreciate the diversity that it adds to otherwise frankly rather uniformed output, in particular, on television.”

“It has carved out an important role for itself in covering stories that other channels don’t cover and in covering a lot of stories that they do cover in rather different ways, with different emphasis,” said Tickell, an author and campaigner who concentrates on health and environmental issues.

READ MORE: Backtracking from ‘no discussion’? UK bank says it will review closure of RT accounts

The UK media landscape, in general, has become increasingly uniform when it comes to the viewpoints of its news coverage, the journalist argued.

“There is a sort of a hegemonic point of view about a lot of issues that is becoming increasingly unacceptable to deviate from,” Tickell said, adding that the current “attack” on RT goes beyond the attempt to restrict its coverage, and could hold wider implications for all alternative sources of information.

“It’s important actually to stand up and say ‘No’ – we will not put up with this, because what’s next? Where is the attack on alternative media and dissenting opinion going next?” he said.

On Monday, the National Westminster Bank (NatWest), which is part of RBS Group, informed RT UK that it was going to close all of its bank accounts, without explanation.

“Long live freedom of speech!” RT’s editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan said on her Twitter account.

While the British government is the Royal Bank of Scotland Group’s majority shareholder, UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s office denies any involvement.

RBS’s decision hasn’t gone unnoticed, however, and Russia’s Foreign Ministry is demanding an explanation from London.

Later on Monday, RBS appeared to backtrack on its insistence that the looming closure of RT’s accounts was not subject to discussion. In a letter to RT, the bank said the situation was being reviewed and the bank would be contacting the customer.

Nevertheless, Tickell launched a petition urging NatWest to reverse its decision, slamming the move as a “blatant attack on diversity that aims, ultimately, to close down its distinctive and valuable voice, and restrict choice for UK viewers.”

“RT plays an important role in diversifying the UK’s media landscape and presenting different points of view to the mainstream,” he wrote in the petition, which was launched on thepetitionsite.com website on Monday.

RT is often portrayed by its opponents, including the BBC, as a “propaganda” channel, Tickell wrote in the petition, arguing that the only difference between the two channels is that BBC exclusively conveys the opinion of the British government and elites, while RT allows the other side to be heard.

“RT’s account of many contentious issues – for example events in Syria and Ukraine – is often more credible, accurate and evidence-based than those of mainstream media,” the petition concludes.

You can send us your story or take on the issue at bankxit@rttv.ru.