The Strange Situation Between HBO's John Oliver And China

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
(Image credit: Paul Schiraldi/HBO)

John Oliver is in the midst of an intriguing development. Following a segment of Oliver's show Last Week Tonight, in which the host took aim at the President of People's Republic of China, Xi Jinping, there are reports circulating that users have been banned from mentioning Oliver on the microblogging platform Weibo.

And now you can add HBO's website to the list of alleged censorship. Before we get into that, let's explain how the Weibo ban on John Oliver works. Well, if a Weibo user attempts to create a post mentioning John Oliver by name, it apparently results in an error message. As for the HBO website, that's where things get tricky.

Deadline reports that while users are not able to access the network's site, they are still able to watch some of the network's most popular series, including Westworld and Game of Thrones, on the streaming platform Tencent. The thing is that HBO's website only contains information on programs available to stream through Tencent, not the streaming content itself. Apparently, HBO's licensing agreement with the streaming platform does not include and has never included Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

So why would HBO's site being blocked have to do with John Oliver? And how did all of this begin? Well, the news out of China comes as part of continued fallout surrounding a segment on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

The segment involved host John Oliver delivering a blistering commentary concerning Xi Jinping's policies and included criticism of censorship, among other things. An issue regarding Winnie the Pooh also came into play. The 20-minute segment aired on June 17 and remains up on the show's YouTube channel in the U.S. It is unclear if and when the ban against John Oliver on the social media site Weibo will come to an end.

In the meantime, you may be able to anticipate the always-outspoken host addressing the reports surrounding HBO's website on his show. As its title hints; new episodes of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver air once a week on Sundays. With news of HBO's site being blocked having made prominent headlines this week, it seems like this coming Sunday's episode could include a response from Oliver.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver does revolve around covering the week's news cycle, and thanks to this segment, John Oliver is now a part of that. Whether Oliver wants to engage in addressing the matter further will be interesting to see. This coming Sunday's episode will mark two weeks since the episode containing the segment originally aired, and it is still in the news. Will he mention it? Tune in and find out.

New episodes of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver air Sundays at 11 p.m. ET on HBO. For new and returning television shows you can anticipate watching over the next couple of months, check out CinemaBlend's guide to TV's summer premieres.

Britt Lawrence

Like a contented Hallmark movie character, Britt happily lives in the same city she grew up in. Along with movies and television, she is passionate about competitive figure skating. She has been writing about entertainment for 5 years, and as you may suspect, still finds it as entertaining to do as when she began.