AT&T Censors Anti-Bush Comments From Pearl Jam Concert Broadcast
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|According to Pearl Jam's website, portions of the band's Sunday night set at Lollapalooza were missing from the AT&T Blue Room live webcast. Fans alerted the band to the missing material after the show. Reportedly absent from the webcast were segments of the band's performance of "Daughter," including the sung lines "George Bush, leave this world alone" and "George Bush find yourself another home."|
Update: While AT&T claims the censorship was a "mistake", according to Wired's Listening Post, concerts streamed on the Blue Room by The Flaming Lips and the John Butler Trio have also been censored for political reasons. If true, this action coupled with past allegations aimed at AT&T suggests an unnerving pro-Bush political agenda from one of America's biggest telecoms.
They did the same thing on the webcasts from Bonnaroo in June during the John Butler Trio show when he was talking about the lack of response from our government during Katrina, and also during the Flaming Lips show when the lead singer was talking about how much George Bush had screwed up. The sound did not cut out at any other time—only when someone was talking about George Bush or the government in a negative way.
Perl Jam stated:
After concluding our Sunday night show at Lollapalooza, fans informed us that portions of that performance were missing and may have been censored by AT&T during the "Blue Room" Live Lollapalooza Webcast.
When asked about the missing performance, AT&T informed Lollapalooza that portions of the show were in fact missing from the webcast, and that their content monitor had made a mistake in cutting them.
During the performance of "Daughter" the following lyrics were sung to the tune of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall" but were cut from the webcast:
- "George Bush, leave this world alone." (the second time it was sung); and
- "George Bush find yourself another home."
This, of course, troubles us as artists but also as citizens concerned with the issue of censorship and the increasingly consolidated control of the media.
AT&T's actions strike at the heart of the public's concerns over the power that corporations have when it comes to determining what the public sees and hears through communications media.
Aspects of censorship, consolidation, and preferential treatment of the internet are now being debated under the umbrella of "NetNeutrality." Check out The Future of Music or Save the Internet for more information on this issue.
Most telecommunications companies oppose "net neutrality" and argue that the public can trust them not to censor..
Even the ex-head of AT&T, CEO Edward Whitacre, whose company sponsored our troubled webcast, stated just last March that fears his company and other big network providers would block traffic on their networks are overblown..
"Any provider that blocks access to content is inviting customers to find another provider." (Marguerite Reardon, Staff Writer, CNET News.com Published: March 21, 2006, 2:23 PM PST).
But what if there is only one provider from which to choose?
If a company that is controlling a webcast is cutting out bits of our performance -not based on laws, but on their own preferences and interpretations - fans have little choice but to watch the censored version.
What happened to us this weekend was a wake up call, and it's about something much bigger than the censorship of a rock band.
We apologize to our fans who were watching the webcast and got shortchanged. In the future, we will work even harder to ensure that our live broadcasts or webcasts are free from arbitrary edits.