A leading talk show host claims Canada’s tourism promotion agency is trying to prevent him from airing episodes on the mainland that touch on politically sensitive topics in the North American country, calling the obstruction censorship.
Gao Xiaosong, the Chinese answer to Simon Cowell, made the allegations in a series of posts on his Weibo account starting on Saturday.
The first episode aired on Iqiyi, a distribution channel similar to Netflix, and attracted 4.68 million views, but the second instalment, was not released on Friday as scheduled.
According to Gao, Destination Canada, the national tourism marketing organisation, wants content removed that deals with the First Nations people, as the country’s aboriginal population is called, as well as the long-running separatist movement in French-speaking Quebec province. “While freedom of expression is well protected back home in Canada, why would its overseas organisation, especially the ones in China, expose its prejudice and arrogance?” Gao wrote.
He said the agency threatened to use legal, diplomatic and political means to stop the episode from airing.
Gao said he did not partner with the agency to produce the show, but Destination Canada suggested they had.
“We hope that the show would be focused on the promotion of the destination, which is our original intention for cooperation, and has been understood and recognised by our producer,” the agency said in the statement released on its Weibo account.
The agency declined to comment further.
The disagreement has fuelled discussions online, with some internet users noting the request to pull the content came just ahead of a visit by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.