UPDATED: Apple rejects South Park app for iPhone over "offensive" content

Posted by Christian Zibreg

Chicago (IL) - Boing Boing reports that the developers behind a new South Park iPhone application submitted it for approval four months ago. And now the developers have received a note from Apple which confirms the application has been rejected, citing "potentially offensive" content. And the irony is, Apple's iTunes Store carries seasons 11 and 12 of the TV show South Park: Uncensored, though admittedly with a TV-MA warning. Apple's message is this:  Watching potentially offensive content is okay. Playing with it in an application is not.

The developers told Boing Boing, "We first announced our iPhone app back in October, after we submitted the application to Apple for approval. After a couple of attempts to get the application approved, we are sad to say that our app has been rejected."

This shouldn't come as a shock to Apple watchers who have been observing Apple rejecting applications which clash with the App Store's rules on a regular basis -- although sometimes it does appear to be on a whim backed by reasoning known only to Apple. What makes this rejection strange, however, is that Apple prohibited the South Park game, and yet the company's iTunes Store carries seasons 11 and 12 of the comedy TV show, "South Park: Uncensored," albeit flagged with TV-MA rating (intended for mature audiences).

Boing Boing claims that the content of ill-fated South Park application for iPhone and iPod touch doesn't differ enough from the TV show offered on iTunes Store to justify the rejection. This obviously begs the question why the show is okay while the application isn't. Readers should note that Apple (and only Apple) creates App Store policies and accepts or rejects submitted applications. With movies, TV shows and music, however, the company also has to factor in content owner policies, copyrights and distribution agreements. The latter, for example, is the reason why some songs or movies are available in the U.S. iTunes Store, but not in other territories.

Developers of the South Park application have said Apple hinted it would relax App Store approval policies soon, giving some hope that their work won't be for naught. Apple allegedly explained that it didn't sell music with explicit lyrics when the iTunes Store first opened for business, only to later approve such songs for sale. Apple's online store nowadays regularly carries many tracks marked with "explicit lyrics" because its iTunes jukebox application used to access the iTunes Store now has parental controls which enable parents to, among other things, restrict access to explicit content.

Apple last relaxed their App Store approval policy this past December, a move enabling a new breed of entertainment applications, like iFart, that would've previously been deemed offensive. Sexually explicit content and porn, however, is still off limit, as are malicious and illegal applications, bandwidth hogs and applications that could raise serious privacy concerns.


SOUTH PARK TV SHOW OK, BUT IPHONE APPLICATION NOT?
Although Apple sells the
South Park: Uncensored comedy show on the iTunes Store, the company rejected the South Park application for iPhone and iPod touch, citing potentially offensive content. South Park: Uncensored is rated on the iTunes Store TV-MA (intended for mature audiences) and as such also carries potentially offensive content.


UPDATED:  February 19, 2009 - 5:16pm CST
The article originally referred to the "South Park game," and not "South Park app".