Media

Jon Stewart’s Apple show abruptly ends due to disagreements over China, AI: reports

Jon Stewart’s show on Apple’s TV streaming service is no more — and China was reportedly an issue.

Stewart and Apple have parted ways after executives at the tech giant expressed misgivings about future episodes of the show that would potentially delve into sensitive topics such as China and artificial intelligence, according to The New York Times.

The move brings about a surprise end to “The Problem With Jon Stewart,” which ran for two years on Apple TV+.

Initially, the show was a ratings flop, managing a meager audience in its first season. But the second season brought several viral moments. The show eventually earned an Emmy nomination for outstanding talk series.

Stewart was insistent on keeping creative control over the show while refusing to be “hamstrung” by Apple, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

When executives let it be known that they wanted final say over the show’s content, Stewart chose to walk away “rather than have his hands tied,” THR reported.

Jon Stewart’s Apple TV show “The Problem With Jon Stewart” won’t return for a third season. AFP via Getty Images

But another report from Variety quotes sources as saying that the Apple-Stewart divorce was “amicable.”

Stewart, the actor-comedian who gained national fame as anchor of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” from 1999 to 2015, was just weeks away from taping new episodes for the third season, according to The Times.

Staffers at “The Problem With Jon Stewart” were notified that the show was ending earlier this week, The Times reported.

The Post has sought comment from Apple.

Apple’s business model is heavily reliant on China since many suppliers in the Asian country are used to make components of bestselling products including the iPhone, iPad, and AirPods.

The former “Daily Show” host reportedly had creative differences with Apple over the content of his podcast. See new Tweets, Conversation, The Problem With Jon Stewart

Half of Apple iPhones are manufactured in a factory in Zhengzhou which has been nicknamed “iPhone City.”

China is also a key market for Apple. In the last quarter alone, Apple generated $15.8 billion in sales from Chinese consumers.

Apple, one of the few American tech giants that have a significant presence in China, has also yielded to censorship demands from the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

In 2021, it was reported by The New York Times that Apple agreed to store the personal data of its Chinese customers in a database whose computer servers are controlled by a state-owned company.

Apple has extensive business ties to China. Apple CEO Tim Cook is seen left with Chinese Vice Premier Ding Xuexiang on Thursday. AP
Cook has had to navigate a fraught relationship with China, which is cracking down on US-based companies. REUTERS

But the Apple-China relationship has been tested in recent weeks by a Chinese government directive barring state workers from using Apple smartphones — a move seen as part of Beijing’s crackdown on foreign enterprise in the country.

The turbulence in US-Chinese relations prompted Apple to look elsewhere for its manufacturing needs. The company recently announced it would bolster its production of iPhones in neighboring India.

Apple also said it planned to shift some production of iPads, MacBooks, and AirPods to Vietnam.

China is key to Apple’s supply chain since companies based in the country make the components of iPhones, iPads, and AirPods. AP

American entertainment companies have been careful not to upset Chinese authorities for fear it would cost them financially.

The Walt Disney Company, the National Basketball Association, and Warner Bros. Discovery have either been punished by China for their employees speaking out about its government’s actions or have altered content to satisfy demands by censorship authorities in Beijing.

China has come under fire for its heavy-handed policies toward Hong Kong as well as its treatment of Uyghur Muslims in the province of Xinjiang.