Disney has been accused of curtailing controversial content in its Hong Kong launch of Disney+.
A number of reports highlighted that the Hong Kong version of Disney+ launched without episode 12 of season 16 of The Simpsons – a 2005 episode in which the titular family visits China to adopt a child. The episode is heavily satirical of China’s government, including the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and massacre.
The missing episode highlights concerns of censorship in Hong Kong, during a time in which authorities have started to clamp down on the entertainment industry.
The Chinese government has recently expanded censorship laws in Hong Kong, but these laws specifically target films that “violate China’s national security interests” and not TV shows. This has led to speculation that Disney has self-censored its content in order to appeal to the government.
Such appeals could see Disney+ become the first major western streamer to launch in the lucrative Chinese market. Players such as Netflix and Amazon have not been allowed to expand into China, and Disney’s China-based content – such as the 2020 live action Mulan and Marvel hit Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings – has helped to expand the company’s already sizable presence in the country.
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