Content creators for Apple TV+ were reportedly told to avoid depictions of China in “a poor light,” the latest development in the controversial relationship between Apple and the Asian country.
In early 2018, as development started for exclusive shows on Apple TV+, Apple reportedly gave guidance for showrunners to avoid negative portrayals of China, according to BuzzFeed News, citing sources familiar with the matter.
The sources said that the instruction came from Apple’s SVP of internet software and services, Eddy Cue, and head of international content development Morgan Wandell. The move is said to be part of the company’s efforts to maintain a good relationship with China after Beijing shut down the iBooks Store and iTunes Movies just six months after launching in the country in 2016.
Apple’s instruction to Apple TV+ creators are not unusual in Hollywood, and is actually an accepted practice, a showrunner not linked to 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?”
There has been a belief that as China opens itself up to the rest of the world, it would adopt western values. However, the opposite seems to be happening, with tech companies giving in to the country’s demands as it is a major player in the global economy.
The most recent example of Apple succumbing to China was its removal of the HKmap.live app, which was used by the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, following a critical op-ed in China’s state-owned newspaper People’s Daily. In an internal memo, Apple CEO Tim Cook defended the takedown by claiming that it was being used to maliciously target police officers, though the app’s developers maintain that there is no evidence of such actions.
Apple is not the only U.S. company currently tied to controversy involving the Hong Kong protests though. The National Basketball Association has tiptoed around the issue since Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted support for the protesters. Blizzard’s suspension of a Hearthstone player has also rocked the gaming community.
In the meantime, as Apple TV+ prepares to launch on November 1, subscribers are waiting for exclusive shows that include the behind-the-scenes drama The Morning Show, period comedy Dickinson, post-apocalyptic drama See, and, apparently, nothing negative about China.
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