Why Is Apple TV Plus Censoring Its Shows Selectively?
Apple TV Plus has beeped out certain words on its show.
Apple TV Plus has beeped out certain words on its show.(Photo: The Quint)

Why Is Apple TV Plus Censoring Its Shows Selectively?

Earlier this month, when Apple TV Plus was launched at the tempting price of Rs 99 per month, it seemed like a cheaper alternative to Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, even though the offerings are quite limited.

Apple TV Plus has been censoring its content in a strange manner though. Users began to notice that certain words were being beeped out, and the run time of episodes on their shows differed from what was given in the episode description. This happened initially with their show See, and Apple TV viewers took to Twitter to express the same.

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Recently filmmaker Kanu Behl who directed Titli, put out a series of tweets criticizing Apple TV Plus for censoring their content and treating their viewers like ‘12-year-old children’. He mentions in his tweet that he saw a Censor certificate in the episode of the platform’s show Servant.

I logged onto Apple TV’s browser and saw a symbol on the top left corner of the screen which says ‘A’, in the format that is usually used by the CBFC. But this an assumption, because there isn’t an image that appears where the name of a formal body has been mentioned and that a certification has been given. This is strange, particularly because a formal certification body is not looking at OTT platforms.

If we assume that the ‘A’ stands for Adult certification, why should anything be censored then?

On the top left corner of the screen, a symbol of certification appears.
On the top left corner of the screen, a symbol of certification appears.
(Photo Courtesy: Apple TV Plus)

He talks about how certain words have been beeped out on the show and said, “Not allowed to hear p**sy. Or f**k. Or I don’t even know what else. All while we sleep. Collectively. Disgusted.”

An expletive in this particular scene has not been beeped nor has it been removed from the subtitles.
An expletive in this particular scene has not been beeped nor has it been removed from the subtitles.
(Photo Courtesy: Apple TV Plus)
On the basis of the first episode of Servant, we found that the omission of words was extremely random.

It’s puzzling some words have been beeped, but there are other expletives also that have not been censored. So there’s one dialogue where one of the characters says, “I mean proper f*****g squeeze your hands together and ask for a pony sort of pray.” The line is as is, and the image below is an example of the same.

A cuss word has not been censored in this scene, neither has it been removed from the subtitles.
A cuss word has not been censored in this scene, neither has it been removed from the subtitles.
(Photo Courtesy: Apple

But in another instance, a word has been beeped. Now one can’t figure out whether it was an expletive or not, because in other places they have been used.

In certain scenes, some words have been beeped.
In certain scenes, some words have been beeped.
(Photo Courtesy: Apple TV Plus/Screengrab)
In this scene too, an expletive is beeped out.
In this scene too, an expletive is beeped out.
(Photo Courtesy: Apple TV Plus)
Jennifer Anniston and Steve Carell in a still from <i>The Morning Show</i>.
Jennifer Anniston and Steve Carell in a still from The Morning Show.
(Photo Courtesy: Apple TV Plus)

On their other seriesThe Morning Show, in a recent episode, there is an entire conversation between Jennifer Anniston and her daughter where they say, “F**k you! F**k you!” repeatedly to each other. No part of that conversation has been beeped. In the first episode also a character on the show says, “Motherf***er”, which has also been retained.

It’s impossible to gauge what the parameters are for censoring content on Apple TV, because there seems to be explanation for the omission of certain words. Also, why have they chosen to omit anything in the first place? Like mentioned earlier, the symbol that appears seems very ambiguous and one can’t assume that a formal body has dictated any kind of censorship.

A couple of days ago, Amazon Prime Video had deleted an episode of their show Madam Secretary, that dealt with Hindu extremism and nationalism. There wasn’t really an explanation for that either. There has been chatter for a while about the government imposing censorship on OTT platforms, but nothing really concrete has come out of that. Platforms self-censoring their content is a really dangerous space to be in, and can seriously limit the kind of content that we can consume.

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