As Apple faces pushback over its decision to remove a Hong Kong protest tracking app from the App Store, a new report from BuzzFeed News says that Apple’s efforts also extend to Apple TV+. According to the report, Apple has instructed Apple TV+ show runners to avoid portraying China negatively.
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This reportedly isn’t a new development, but rather something Apple started telling many show creators last year. The specific wording of Apple’s instructions is unclear, but it comes down to “avoid portraying China in a poor light,” the report says.
Those instructions were reportedly handed down by Eddy Cue, as well as Morgan Wandell, Apple’s head of international content development. As we reported, Apple’s iBooks and iTunes Movies stores were shut down across China in 2016, just six months after they opened. Apple is seemingly looking to avoid a similar situation with Apple TV+.
For Hollywood producers, Apple’s guidance wasn’t necessary unusual:
Apple’s tip toeing around the Chinese government isn’t unusual in Hollywood. It’s an accepted practice. “They all do it,” one showrunner who was not affiliated with Apple told BuzzFeed News. “They have to if they want to play in that market. And they all want to play in that market. Who wouldn’t?”
Meanwhile, BuzzFeed News also spoke to one app developer to said getting phone calls from Apple about problems in China is common:
“We just get a phone call from Apple and they say ‘We just got a call from the Chinese government’ and five minutes later our app is off the App Store,” one US technology executive told BuzzFeed News. “It’s not a line of communication that would be open to any discussion.”
Tim Cook says that Apple’s decision to remove HKmap.live from the App Store was based on information the company received about individuals using the app to target police. Nonetheless, Apple continues to face pushback about the decision.