Every year before June, content and media platforms in China eagerly anticipate a new round of censorship as the government tightens access to information until the anniversary of the Tianmen Square crackdown.
This year, Chinese users lost two access to the podcast app – Pocket Casts And castro Podcast. Neither apps can be found within Apple Chinese App Store at the time of writing.
Pocket Casts, which was acquired by a group of US public radio companies in 2018, tweeted that it had been removed from the Chinese App Store by Apple “at the request of China’s cyberspace administration”.
When Pocket Casts sought clarification, Apple’s app review team asked the podcast firm to contact CAC directly, an email seen by TipsClear.
“We will probably contact them to find out more, although we did not offer that option to prevent the app from being removed, only to re-install it as a possible solution. A Pocket Cast spokesperson told TipsClear that we were given a problem amidst the very small amount of warnings, and our app was completely removed from the Chinese App Store, which was quite dangerous.
“We had assumed that what they want us to remove are specific podcasts, and that we may be involved in some of the Black Lives Matter content posted.”
The Castro Podcasts, purchased by Dribble owner Tiny in 2018, said in a tweet that unless it has been specified about its removal in China, the incident could be due to its “support for the protest”.
Apple could not immediately be reached for comment.
The loss is reminiscent of Apple’s breakdown around this time on Chinese-language podcasts last year. For many independent podcast creators in China, free expression was the beginning of the end. While domestic podcast platforms play to Beijing’s rules to self-censor, the cracks have long remained on international platforms such as Apple Podcasts.
The Apple app, which acts as an RSS rather than a hosting service, has disqualified the authorization for its relatively hands-on approach to audio content. This is in contrast to its Chinese counterparts, which are fully screened material before publication. While Apple only distributes content, its Chinese rivals “listen to content hosting, content delivery and the user as a result of China’s regulations and years of commercial development,” observed Chinese podcasting firm JustPod in a blog post.
Most foreign podcasts have long been inaccessible to Apple within China. When Vishal started taking out the Chinese show, which lacked government-approved hosting partners that moderated the content, many called it Apple’s permission for censorship as a law-abiding step. saw.
The company’s shareholders have protested, with 40% of the group (paid) casting support for a resolution that Apple would have to be more transparent in reacting to the government’s demands for censorship.
Pocket Casts and Castro Podcast are two censorship-free options that many Chinese podcast creators have picked up within Apple Podcasts since last year’s purge. Pocket Casts said that China is now the 7th largest market with rapid growth. This option is now gone.
Recent developments suggest that Apple may increase Beijing’s pressure to remain in the market. In February, the firm removed the smash-hit Plague Inc., stating that “material that is illegal in China as determined by the CAC,” the same government agency that dropped the pocket cast. In 2017, Apple sparked a major controversy when it pulled out hundreds of VPNs that would help mainland users access otherwise blocked websites.