John Oliver Called It: Last Week Tonight Was Censored in India

The latest episode of Last Week Tonight is being blocked by broadcasters in India—just as host John Oliver predicted.

“Meaningful criticism of [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi is scarce on TV in India,” Oliver told viewers during Sunday’s episode of Last Week Tonight, which focused largely on India’s contentious elections. His monologue called out the many acts of censorship enacted by Modi, the “uncritical, fawning praise” the leader receives from the media, and the proliferation of anti-Muslim extremism under his regime.

Oliver’s coverage has now become part of that scarcity, as the entire Last Week Tonight episode has been made unavailable to viewers in India.

According to The Independent, the June 2 episode is not currently available on JioCinema, Last Week Tonight‘s streaming partner in India. Even on YouTube, the video has been blocked to viewers attempting to watch the episode from India.

“The uploader has not made this video available in your country,” the error message reads—though it’s safe to say this wasn’t the doing of Oliver, who anticipated that his criticisms would prevent the episode from ever making it to audiences in India.

“I know that this episode is almost definitely not going to end up airing in India,” Oliver warned. “And depending on what they do with the laws around YouTube, I’m not totally sure what’ll happen to it there, either.”

Oliver went on to explain that the show had set up two phony websites— and, both references to joke tangents from his monologue—that are seemingly inane, but are where his entire 25-minute exposé on Modi’s tactics will live online, with the hope that they’ll fly under the radar of India’s government.

Oliver has been down this road before. In 2019, Disney+ Hotstar (the show’s streaming partner in India at the time) removed an episode that covered Modi. That time, Oliver addressed the censorship on a subsequent episode. This time around, he was two steps ahead—though it remains to be seen if his Trojan Horse websites will survive India’s censorship efforts.

The sites’ videos are slated to go live on Thursday, June 6.

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