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The Secretive Campaign to Halt Press TV in the UK

By Lauren Booth

Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, January 16, 2011

The previously secretive campaign to halt Press TV Ltd, the British production company, from making programs critical of Western Imperialism, is finally out in the open. Thanks to Wikileaks.

Last month, Julian Assange’s incredible agency, released the news Her Majesty's Government (HMG) is now fully implicated in efforts to shut Press TV Ltd down. Backing, quite clearly, US led efforts, to cripple this tiny, yet heavyweight, British production company.

Let me explain. Ever since it first began making programs some four years ago, Press TV Ltd (the British company, who sells documentaries and series to the Iranian channel of the same name), has been under pressure from what Princess Diana would have known as 'dark Forces.'

Pressure had taken the form, until recently, of the usual nonsense from Zionist organizations. Letter writers, linked to the Israeli Embassy in London and its web of supporters, have been trying to use Ofcom as some kind of offshoot Hasbara body. Endless letters of complaint were sent to the broadcasting monitor, whenever Press TV, broadcast a news items shedding light on the thuggery, blackmail and racism inherent in Israeli government policy. Thus, faux 'shock, horror' objections to  shows like the one I present, 'Remember Palestine' pushed Ofcom to uphold minor criticisms. And have led to negative headlines in the ridiculous Jewish Chronicle against an otherwise excellent UK bureau. Happily, the most recent attempt to besmirch the veracity of Remember Palestine,  was so feeble,  that  Ofcom dug its heels in.  Here’s part of the complaint;
Here is a summary paragraph from Ofcom’s response:

“In this instance, while the subject of the Patria was raised, it was contributor Trevor Mostyn who said the ship had been deliberately sunk by a hard-line Jewish terrorist group. Lauren Booth clarified Mr Mostyn’s position with him and what the motivations for such action would have been, before asking him “Weren’t the British accused of blowing-up that boat?”
Programmes such as Remember Palestine are able to examine subjects from a particular perspective. The comments about the sinking of the Patria may contrast with the individual who has claimed responsibility for planting the bomb and said it was a miscalculation rather than a deliberate attempt to sink the vessel, Mr Mostyn’s comments were aired from a contributor who had his own personal perspective on events. Viewers would frame his opinions in the context of his personal background as a partial contributor on a channel known for taking a stance on subjects relating to the Middle East. We are also mindful, while you disagree with the view offered, Mr Mostyn did not make any derogatory or offensive comments about his subject or Jewish people”.
And it goes on:  

“With regard to your wider comments about Press TV, Ofcom is an evidence-based regulator and we need to view specific content to determine whether material has breached our regulations.”

Remember Palestine and 'Comment', hosted by the legendary George Galloway (another target) have publicly exposed Israeli war crimes. Our shows, meet UK standards, they just go farther into the truth than other broadcasters (namely the BBC) dare.
As the malign letter writing campaign against Press TV has had only limited success to date. Next came the hacking of emails, facebook accounts and mobile phones that have tried and failed (laughably so) to cause tensions between colleagues. Clearly whoever, runs such things was now looking for a more covert way  to try and upset a legally run, British company. Those, darker forces: Zionist funds, fuelling US policy pressurising British Government to stifle debate. All working again behind the scenes of British life.
What is fascinating is that now we have Wikileaks, such campaigns of business 'terrorism' are increasinglymade visible to the untrained eye.

With this in mind, last month, Press TV executives in London were interested to note the wikileaks release of cables between the US embassy in London and the US State Department. And between an official named ‘Poloff’ from the London embassy and Jaime Turner at the FCO.
The cables were dated the 2nd of Feb 2010. Here is the relevant part.

' HMG is exploring ways to limit the operations of the IRIB's Press TV service, which operates a large bureau (over 80 staff) in London. However, UK law sets a very high standard for denying licenses to broadcasters. Licenses can only be denied in cases where national security is threatened, or if granting a license would be contrary to Britain's obligations under international law. Currently, neither of these standards can be met with respect to Press TV, but if further sanctions are imposed on Iran in the coming months, a case may be able to be made on the second criterion'.

 ‘Denying licenses to broadcasters’  would the motivation for doing that, having anything to do with the fact that Press TV has more Gazan correspondents on-the-ground than any other rolling news channel?

That 'second criterion' of sanctions against the Iranian government, by the way, should not apply to a TV Channel in Iran. Much less a production company in the UK that merely sends it product. Press TV Ltd is subject to UK Law, is registered in England & Wales at Companies House, is run by a British Chief Executive. It generates tax revenue for Britain and provides work opportunities for people at a time when unemployment is high.

Having failed then to find a legitimate problem with the quality or content of programs being produced. The wiki leaked memo makes it clear that other methods, are being sought by the British government, (as a lap dog to US masters), to shut this company down. But what would the FCO wonks come up with? Who are the big buddies of this coalition government? Those in a potentially useful position to cripple legitimate, yet outspoken, companies lethally and (they presumed) silently?

Step forward the good old British Bank. Yes folks, our very own subsidized, tax revenue bailed out fat cats, spring into action!

Last month, suddenly and without any warning, the National Westminster Bank, Commercial Banking office, froze Press TV Ltd's business account.
By 'froze', I mean it sealed off the main trading account for the production company, in which lies more the 100,000 pounds sterling. This money is now unable to be accessed by the British companies executives for trading purposes.
Bizarre, no?
Was any warning given of this action? No. Executives received a letter saying the account was frozen. Done and dusted. No debate, no argument, no professional meetings, no bad business history, not even a feeble attempt at an excuse for this commercial terrorism. Nada. Indeed, so confident were Nat West executives of a silence from the authorities, that a month on, they have yet to bother offering confounded executives at the channel a reason for such punitive, draconian, theft.
For if you or I couldn’t get to a hundred k of our own money, isn’t that what we’d rightfully call it?
And there's more, the bank has stated it will close the accounts permanently in February 2011. Potentially leaving British staff unpaid and ending the companies ability to trade completely.

The freezing of Press TV Ltd business account by Nat West Bank, is a politically motivated act. Intended to cripple a thriving British company, whose programs and news bulletins shed light on areas of policy which certain agencies would sooner keep in the dark.

Perhaps Nick Clegg would like to take a look at protecting British jobs here at Press TV Ltd.

 We knew that free speech was never a favourite with the Blair machine, the anti terror laws are still used to lock up those who take to the streets to question government policy. But this action against a legally operating UK production company should send a shiver down the back of all who those who speak out; about government policy, American imperialism and yes, the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
 The bank accounts of those companies who bring uncomfortable truths into the public domain, can now be closed as part of a political agenda, eliciting from the USA. Supported by the Nat West and Her Majesty's Government.
 Two years ago, the Palestinian charity Interpal suffered almost precisely just such a business attack. Interpal still has major banking problems because their account with Islamic Bank of Britain has no external clearing facilities. Basically, banks can pick and choose who they hold accounts for, and can close accounts without any reasons being given and with no right of appeal.

 Although the government has a charter, to make sure that every individual has access to banking facilities, this doesn't apply to companies and corporate bodies like Muslim charities.
Or Press TV.

So with these cards on the table. The question I’d like to pose to all those in the charitable or the activism world.
What are we going to do about it?

 A first step may be to ask Vince Cable what he intends to do to protect the British jobs at risk due to Nat West's actions;

The next is to contact the Nat West Bank directly and demand an explanation.

Thanks again to Wikileaks for making public the dark ops increasingly being used by governments to silence critics.

The irony that the British government now appears to be part of a larger attempt to stifle free speech in a company that sells prograns to Iran. Has not passed anyone here at Press TV by.
Lauren Booth, Journalist and Broadcaster







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