John Oliver episode about PM Modi not available in India on local Disney platform
Image: Sixteen String Jack Prods / Avalon Tv / Kobal / Shutterstock By Adam Rosenberg2020-02-25 23:27:07 UTC John Oliver's revealing (and scathing) look at India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the latest Last Week Tonight is now a bit...
John Oliver's revealing (and scathing) look at India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the latest Last Week Tonight is now a bit harder to watch if you're in India, thanks to — in an unexpected twist — Disney.
Hotstar, the Disney-owned streaming platform that carries HBO programming in India, didn't make the latest episode of John Oliver's weekly series available, according to a report from Bloomberg. The company's local representatives didn't respond to a request for comment. (Mashable reached out to Disney in the U.S., but no response there yet, either.)
In the latest episode, which aired on Sunday evening in the U.S. and should have arrived on the morning of Tuesday, Feb. 25 in India, Oliver devoted the main segment of the 30-minute program to an up-close look at Modi's tenure as prime minister. It's strongly critical of Modi's record, making (admittedly apt) comparisons between the Indian prime minister's nativist policies and those of Donald Trump.
It's not yet clear what the circumstances are that led to the episode being a no-show. Bloomberg noted that "a representative from India's Information and Broadcast Ministry said the government wasn't involved in the matter."
Further, the Modi package specifically appears to still be available on YouTube India's Last Week Tonight page. To be clear: We tested this ourselves by accessing YouTube India from inside the U.S., and we don't know if the channel lineup would look different if viewed from within India.
Still, YouTube is a separate platform from Hotstar, with a different owner in Google. And assuming the government official that spoke to Bloomberg had their facts straight, the agency charged with regulating broadcasts in India wasn't involved in the decision to bar Last Week Tonight's latest episode. These factors all suggest that Hotstar itself made the call.
Oliver's Modi segment came as Trump paid a visit to India and met with the prime minister. During the visit, and in a reflection of exactly the issues Oliver's critical Modi take raised, violence broke out between Hindu and Muslim groups.