© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Comedian and talk show host Jon Stewart arrives on the red carpet before accepting the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center on April 24, 2022 in Washington, United States. REUTERS/Cheriss May/File Photo

By Patricia Zengerle and Michael Martina

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers have asked Apple Inc (NASDAQ:) to declare the abrupt end of political comedian Jon Stewart’s television show on its streaming service, a letter released on Wednesday said.

The New York Times reported last month that Stewart’s show on Apple’s streaming service ended due to creative differences. The newspaper said Stewart told his employees that potential show topics related to China and artificial intelligence were a concern to Apple executives.

Apple declined to comment to the Times.

“While companies have the right to determine what content is appropriate for their streaming service, the coercive actions of a foreign power should not directly or indirectly influence those decisions,” said the Republican and Democratic leaders of the House Select Committee on Competition With the Communist Party Party of China says the letter to Apple boss Tim Cook.

The letter asked Apple representatives to notify them of their concerns by December 15, 2023. It said the committee also expects to speak with representatives of Stewart.

“To reassure the creative community in light of these reports, we also respectfully request that Apple publicly affirm that content that could be perceived as critical of the CCP or the People’s Republic of China is welcome on Apple TV+ and other Apple services.” said the signed letter from the panel’s Republican chairman, Rep. Michael Gallagher, and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, the panel’s ranking Democrat.

Representatives for Stewart and Apple did not respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.

The letter was released ahead of a dinner expected Wednesday evening at which top U.S. business leaders were scheduled to dine with Chinese President Xi Jinping in San Francisco in an attempt to woo American companies and counter his country’s recent difficulties in attracting foreign investment.

The dinner on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum would follow a day of talks between Xi and US President Joe Biden aimed at stabilizing strained ties between the world’s two largest economies.

The House committee has made China’s media controls a focus of its work.

U.S. lawmakers have long raised concerns about possible censorship by the Chinese government given the ruling Communist Party’s strict media controls. The concern is particularly high with Hollywood films, as some studios have changed scripts or self-censored to appease Chinese government officials and gain access to the country’s market.

Source : www.investing.com

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