Propaganda, Russia and a British Bank Account

An interesting story on RT this week described how a British bank, NatWest, informed RT that they would be terminating their business dealings with the Russian government sponsored media network (see clip above). RT and Russian government officials immediately described NatWest’s actions as that of the British government and commented that the bank’s decision was part of an attack on the “rights of journalists”.
The announcement came on Monday as the EU’s foreign ministers condemned Russia’s bombing of Aleppo but decided not to propose any new sanctions against Russia and following a meeting on Sunday between U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry and his British counterpart, Boris Johnson.
Media studies scholars have monitored international broadcasting since the earliest days of the discipline. In the 1930s, those studies were mainly related to Nazi propaganda but an extensive literature on propaganda was developed and discourses about state-financed propaganda have made something of a comeback in recent years, including in Sweden. RT’s coverage even provided a montage of contemporary western diplomats referencing Russian propaganda (see 9:16 in clip above).
Just because propaganda claims are not new doesn’t mean that they don’t merit empirical assessment. Screening Protest takes these claims seriously and explores the content of several state-financed global news broadcasters (RT, CCTV, AJE, DWTV and BBC). Those who thought the end of the Cold War would see propaganda disappear from international broadcasting need only to tune in and start taking notes.

Jacob Sommer

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