Aishwarya Ramesh

John Oliver slams Hotstar over episode censorship

Oliver hit back at Disney-owned Hotstar for censoring an episode of his show 'Last Week Tonight'. He also mocked Arnab Goswami's Republic TV.

Censorship in the OTT space is a hotly debated topic in India. From Netflix's 'Sacred Games' to Amazon Prime's show 'Hunters', there have been repeated calls from multiple users to censor content uploaded on OTT streaming platforms so as to not hurt religious sentiments. However, the censorship conversation took an unexpected turn recently, with media outlets coming under scrutiny for being critical of the BJP's governance in India. Asianet, a Malayalam news channel, was temporarily blocked for airing a program that showed visuals of the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed National Registry of Citizens.

Recently, Hotstar came under the scanner for not screening an episode of news satire show 'Last Week Tonight', starring British journalist John Oliver. The episode dealt with the conversation around CAA, and it did not air on Hotstar at all. Hotstar is owned by Disney+ in India and this (see below) was the episode that attracted censorship.

"That episode actually did not air in India. A lot of viewers alerted us of the fact that Hotstar, the streaming service that broadcast us in India, never uploaded that episode in India. There’s no evidence that the Indian government made them do that,” says Oliver, according to a Times of India report. The episode is not available on Hotstar's official channel, nor can it be viewed on John Oliver's official channel.

The Times of India report also says this is not the first time that Hotstar had been quietly censoring Oliver's content. In the past, Oliver claimed that Hotstar had removed a joke he had made about Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. He went on to claim that this was a pointless activity - seeing that he voiced the character of 'Zazu' in the live action remake of 'The Lion King'.