Disney India Blocks John Oliver Show Critical Of Narendra Modi

An episode of John Oliver’s show that criticized Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been blocked in India by Hotstar, the local platform run by Walt Disney Co.

The comedian was previewing President Donald Trump’s visit to India on his Emmy-winning ‘Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,’ which typically airs at 6 a.m. each Tuesday in the Asian nation. When subscribers logged in Feb. 25, they could only find older episodes.

A Hotstar representative didn’t reply to an email and calls seeking comment. A representative for India’s Information and Broadcasting Ministry said the government wasn’t involved in the matter.

The incident is the latest to show how multinational businesses have to deal carefully in nations run by leaders often perceived as authoritarian. Trump’s visit to India comes amid protests against a new religion-based citizenship law, which erupted in violence hours before Trump landed in the national capital.

“While Modi may have charmed Bear Grylls, the world, and our current president, in India he is an increasingly controversial figure because his government has pursued a steadily escalating persecution of religious minorities,” Oliver said in the episode, which can be viewed on the show’s Youtube account. “The only glimmer of hope here is that for perhaps the first time in Modi’s whole career, his actions are creating a massive and sustained backlash.”

Amazon.com Inc. last year removed an episode of the CBS show Madam Secretary from its streaming service in India, the Quint reported. The episode had references to Hindu nationalism and Hindu extremists in “India-occupied Kashmir,” a Himalayan region that’s been a longstanding flashpoint between India and arch-rival Pakistan.

Netflix Inc. pulled an episode in Saudi Arabia of comedian Hasan Minhaj’s “Patriot Act” series that criticized the kingdom’s powerful crown prince.―Bloomberg

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