Following last month’s abrupt cancellation of Apple TV+ commentary series The Problem With Jon Stewart, members of Congress sent a letter to Apple asking whether the show’s potential coverage of China played a role in the series getting the ax.
The lawmakers want to know if “the coercive tactics of a foreign power” were a factor in Apple’s decision.
Did China force Apple to cancel The Problem with Jon Stewart?
The Problem was a biweekly, one-hour, single-issue series that explored topics that were part of the national conversation. It featured Jon Stewart in his first role since leaving hit satirical news series The Daily Show.
Two season were made for Apple TV+ but there will not be a third. And Stewart reportedly said that the cancellation came over plans to focus episodes on China and artificial intelligence.
According to Reuters, the leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Select Committee on Competition with the Chinese Communist Party sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook that read, in part:
“While companies have the right to determine what content is appropriate for their streaming service, the coercive tactics of a foreign power should not be directly or indirectly influencing these determinations.”
Apple + China
China is a significant market for iPhone and other Apple products. And many of Apple’s devices are assembled in the country. Those strongly opposed to China’s authoritarian government condemn Apple for these business relationships.
It’s clear the congresspeople who asked about the cancellation of Stewart’s show have concerns about how much influence China has over what’s on Apple TV+. Their letter to the company also said:
“We also respectfully request that Apple publicly commit that content that could be perceived as critical of the CCP or the PRC is welcome on Apple TV+ and other Apple services.”
Those are references to the Chinese Communist Party and the People’s Republic of China.
The committee chairpeople reportedly asked for a briefing on this matter before December 15. They also want to speak with Stewart or a representative.