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Apple has started censoring Chinese language podcasts in China

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Last quarter, Chinese customers severely “restricted” Apple – with disappointing results for the US tech giant reported from the world’s most populous, and one of the most sought after digital markets.

Apple’s revenues in China stood at just over $13.17 billion then – almost $5 billion down year-on-year.

This had not been good news – but it’s hard to do other than speculate now and say whether the company is seeking to make new or cement old “friendships” in China – or is simply hoping not to do any further damage to its business, as it is reportedly moving to “restrict” some “overseas Chinese-language podcasts.”

The restrictions imposed on the availability of several – but not all – popular shows happened in the Chinese Apple Podcasts store, TechCrunch said.

The report at the same time describes podcasting as “one of the few remaining channels for people in mainland China to find content immune from scrutiny by the country’s media regulators” – and one might say, that’s true of many other places.

That aside – the Chinese Apple Podcasts store is also described as being in the past a champion of content that the country’s censors could not reach.

But unlike “in the west” – the report observed – the booming Chinese language podcasting industry is now coming up against roadblocks, some of them put up by Apple.

TechCrunch then cites Apple’s reply to a query made by one of the affected podcasts – Two I.T. Uncles – that stated the show can at this time be downloaded everywhere except in China – but that “only shows from select partners are available in the Chinese Apple Podcasts store.”

And there’s been no further word, at least for the time being, from the tech giant as to who these partners may be. But TechCrunch speculates they may be Himalaya and Lizhi, who distribute as well as host content – and that the US company may be now trying to better live up to its obligations under Chinese regulations.

TechCrunch also makes a throwaway, if rather damning reference to the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square events, and Apple’s restrictive podcast store moves coinciding with it – and recalls that the company has a history of trying to play by Chinese rules while doing business in China: such as removing VPNs from its store in 2017, and storing Chinese users’ data in China – as Beijing mandates.

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