Apple has pulled podcast platform Pocket Casts from China’s digital app store at the behest of Beijing’s top internet watchdog, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), which believes the app can be used to access “illegal” content.
As The Verge pointed out, this marks the second major podcast app to be removed from China’s App Store this month, following the recent expulsion of iOS-based Castro Podcast Player. “We believe podcasting is and should remain an open medium, free of government censorship. As such we won’t be censoring podcast content at their request,” Pocket Casts tweeted this morning. “[We] feel it’s a necessary step to take for any company that values the open distribution model that makes podcasting special.”
Pocket Casts, which was acquired by a group of American public radio companies in 2018, was apparently notified by the CAC through Apple two days before its app got dumped. “There were no specific reasons provided, even after we asked for clarification,” the company wrote in a follow-up tweet. “The overall reason was that we ‘include content that is illegal in China as determined by the CAC.'”
Chinese users, who can no longer access the program and its updates, will have to find another listening platform, but their options are limited. Apple recently withdrew a number of Chinese-language podcasts from its Chinese Podcasts store—one of the few remaining channels featuring approved content, TechCrunch reported. The People’s Republic of China has a history of broadcast censorship. Last year, the CAC ordered 26 audio-focused apps be terminated, suspended, or investigated for spreading “historical nihilism” and “pornography,” according to a June 2019 notice.