Internet and content censorship is further deepening its roots in the vibrant Indian democracy. As spotted by multiple users, Disney-owned Hotstar, which is India’s biggest on-demand video streaming service by users, has blocked John Oliver’s latest episode that is critical of country’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. Hotstar has over 300 million users on its platform as of now.
And as expected, many users have expressed their anger for not being able to see the episode via Hotstar. This also comes right on the heels of the launch of Disney+ in India, which is slated to launch via Hotstar.
Hotstar is the official streaming platform for HBO and SHowtime shoes in India. And as has usually been the case, HBO’s ‘Last Week Tonight with John Oliver’ was supposed to release at its scheduled 6am time. But this time though, the 19 minute episode which is critical of Indian PM Narendra Modi, did not air. The episode however is available on the show’s official youtube channel and has since garnered 4.4 million views. It is currently among the top 10 trending videos in India on Youtube.
In the episode, John Oliver goes on to talk about the ‘increasingly controversial figure’ PM Modi, specially with respect to the recently implemented Citizenship Amendment Act. He starts the episode by cracking jokes over Donald Trump’s India visit and PM Modi’s recent episode with Bear Grylls on Man vs Wild. He then changes the rhetoric to controversial policies that Modi’s government has brought in, starting with demonetisation.
There has been no official comment from Star India or Hotstar on this. India’s information and broadcasting ministry says that it has not ordered any such censorship, and has no control over internal censorship decisions by media companies.