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Lawmakers want to know if China had anything to do with Apple's decision to cancel Jon Stewart's show

Polly Thompson   

Lawmakers want to know if China had anything to do with Apple's decision to cancel Jon Stewart's show
  • Apple was asked by a House committee to explain its decision to cancel Jon Stewart's show.
  • "The Problem with Jon Stewart," which streams on Apple TV+, was canceled last month.

Lawmakers have asked Apple to explain why "The Problem with Jon Stewart" was recently canceled.

In a letter sent to Apple CEO Tim Cook Wednesday, the bipartisan House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party questioned the decision to cancel Stewart's show, suggesting that content relating to China was being censored to protect Apple's interests in a key market.

Last month, it was reported that Stewart's show on AppleTV+ was canceled ahead of its third season after supposed creative differences.

The former "Daily Show" host wanted full creative control over the topics he discussed on the show, but told his staff that Apple executives were concerned over potential content relating to China and AI, The New York Times reported.

After being told he must be "aligned" with the company on topics, Stewart and Apple decided to go their separate ways.

The House committee is now asking Apple to brief its members by December 15.

"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," reads the letter, signed by the panel.

The committee said they would also be speaking to representatives for Stewart.

Highlighting the negative impact of Chinese censorship on the American creative industry, the committee members also asked that Apple publicly commits to allowing content critical of the CCP and China on its streaming platform and other services.

"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," they wrote.

"If Jon Stewart can potentially be impeded from offering commentary on the CCP, what does this mean for less prominent personalities?".

China has become the iPhone maker's fastest-growing market and is its main production base.

Last year almost a fifth of Apple's revenues came from China, while more than 95% of iPhones, AirPods, Macs, and iPads were made in Chinese factories.

As tensions have heated up between China and the US, Apple is finding itself caught in the middle.

The Congress members acknowledged the "lure" of the Chinese market, but said Beijing's retaliation towards American companies that criticized China did not align with US values.

They also called to Apple to reduce its dependence on China.

The committee was established in January to address the threats posed by China to the US.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider, made outside normal working hours.