Apple Told Apple TV+ Creators to Avoid Making China Look Bad in Shows: Report

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Apple is all about valuing privacy and CEO Tim Cook is all about doing the right thing, frequently citing inspirational quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King.

However, when it comes to China, Apple has to listen and it has been listening quite intently. The company recently bowed to pressure from the Communist Party and removed a Hong Kong maps app from the App Store, alleged to be aiding protesters against police. Cook also justified the company’s decision in a memo to staff.

Now, BuzzFeed News has learned Apple has even gone so far to appease China, that it warned Apple TV+ creators to avoid making the country look bad in programming:

In early 2018 as development on Apple’s slate of exclusive Apple TV+ programming was underway, the company’s leadership gave guidance to the creators of some of those shows to avoid portraying China in a poor light, BuzzFeed News has learned. Sources in position to know said the instruction was communicated by Eddy Cue, Apple’s SVP of internet software and services, and Morgan Wandell, its head of international content development. It was part of Apple’s ongoing efforts to remain in China’s good graces after a 2016 incident in which Beijing shut down Apple’s iBooks Store and iTunes Movies six months after they debuted in the country.

One unnamed Hollywood insider said it’s not just Apple that is walking on eggshells regarding China, saying everyone does it. “They have to if they want to play in that market. And they all want to play in that market. Who wouldn’t?”, said the source.

As for Apple’s recent actions seen as kowtowing to the Chinese government, one unnamed former Apple employee told BuzzFeed News, “Given how authentically good Apple is at protecting user privacy, it’s very dismaying to see it doing the wrong thing in other areas, especially its relationship with the [Chinese Communist Party].”

Apple TV+ will cost $5.99 CAD per month in Canada, launching on November 1. Those buying select Apple products will get the service free for one year.