Did Apple and Jon Stewart part ways over China? Members of Congress would like to know.
The House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party on Wednesday sent a letter to Apple chief executive Tim Cook asking that he explain why the company will no longer produce “The Problem With Jon Stewart” for its streaming service — AppleTV+.
The bipartisan letter — signed by Chairman Rep. Mike Gallagher, a Wisconsin Republican, and Ranking Member Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Democrat from Illinois — asked that Apple provide the committee with a briefing by Dec. 15, 2023, so that they can better understand the reason for the show’s cancelation. The letter also asked Apple to make a public commitment that content potentially viewed as critical of the Chinese Communist Party would be welcome on the company’s services.
CNN previously reported that Stewart was approached by Apple executives who were concerned about the show’s discussion of China and artificial intelligence, according to multiple show staff members with whom Stewart discussed the matter. Apple executives told Stewart they both needed to be aligned regarding the topics, which he declined, instead saying that he wanted full creative control over his show. Apple then threatened to cancel the show, after which Stewart walked away.
“If these reports are accurate, it potentially speaks to broader concerns about indirect Chinese Communist Party (CCP) influence over the creative expression of American artists and companies on CCP-related topics,” the committee said in the letter. “It also highlights an additional reason, beyond the traditionally-cited national security rationales, why we encourage Apple to accelerate its efforts to reduce its dependence on the [People’s Republic of China] in its core business.”
“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,” the lawmakers added.
Representatives for Apple and Stewart did not immediately respond to CNN requests for comment.
The letter added that while Stewart, a high-profile comedian, can likely find another home for his show following his exit from Apple, lesser-known comedians may struggle to find a platform to express their views on matters related to China. While China has a “long track record of retaliating against companies that fail to walk the Party’s line,” the committee said in the letter, the incident raises concerns over the Xi administration’s “coercive tactics on U.S. companies.”
To avoid such coercion, the letter encourages that Apple “urgently work to diversify supply chains and reduce overall technological dependencies on” China, which provides the Chinese Communist Party with economic leverage.
China represents nearly a fifth of Apple’s sales and is by far the company’s fastest-growing region.
The post Did Apple cancel John Stewart show over China coverage? House wants to know first appeared on WRAL TechWire.