AT&T bleeps out Bush criticism lyrics in Pearl Jam performance
pickup in The Houston (Texas) Chronicle
Thursday 9 August 2007
AT&T 'regrets' edit
of Pearl Jam's
SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Lyrics performed by Pearl Jam criticizing President Bush should not have been censored from the live Webcast by AT&T Inc., a company spokesman acknowledged today.
AT&T, through its Blue Room entertainment site, offered a Webcast of the band's headlining performance Sunday at Lollapalooza in Chicago, but two lines were cut by monitors hired by the company through a vendor.
The monitors were only supposed to bleep out excessive profanity or nudity, said AT&T spokesman Michael Coe. Performances on the site are streamed live, but a brief delay allows the company to monitor excessive profanity by performers between songs and to catch "wardrobe malfunctions," he said.
The lyrics silenced Sunday should not have been cut, Coe acknowledged. Coe said it was a mistake and the company was working with the vendor that produces the Webcasts to avoid future misunderstandings.
The lines cut from a song to the tune of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall" included
"George Bush, leave this world alone"
the second time it was sung and
"George Bush find yourself another home,"
according to the band's Web site.
"What was edited out of those songs should not have been edited out. That was a mistake, and we regret that," said Coe, who added that the company was working to secure the rights to post the entire song -- part of a sing-along with the audience -- on the Blue Room site.
San Antonio-based AT&T uses the Blue Room site to offer live concerts, sports interviews, video game advice and other entertainment content that requires a high-speed Internet connection as a way to promote DSL services. The site's content is free.
Besides Pearl Jam's show, AT&T Webcast 21 other performances ranging from Pete Yorn to G. Love and Special Sauce during the three-day Lollapalooza music festival. No other complaints have been made about censoring, Coe said.
Pearl Jam said in a posting on its Web site that in the future, it would work harder to ensure live broadcasts or Webcasts are "free from arbitrary edits."
"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," they said.
The alternative rock band and Internet advocates were also using the incident to try to draw attention to questions about the future of net neutrality and whether Internet service providers, like AT&T, might be able to put some content on slower-moving Internet bandwidths.
Jenny Toomey, executive director of the Future of Music Coalition, said the incident is not a case of net neutrality being violated, but it raises questions about whether AT&T and other service providers can be trusted not to hurt artists by giving faster download times to some content and not to others.
Internet speeds that depend only on the size of files, not the kind of content that's in them, is a democratizing force, she said.
"We've got to protect that, and artists get that," Toomey said.
But Coe said the issue of net neutrality -- where the concern is Internet service providers giving preferential treatment to some Web sites and not others -- is entirely separate from the mistake during the Pearl Jam show.
"This was our own Web site," he noted.
The biggest surprise in this whole article is Pearl Jam is still around.
8/9/2007 11:37:40 PM
The should not censor Pearl Jam because they are criticizing Bush, they should censor them because their lyrics are so bad. Seriously, there has to be a limit to what these guys can do to offend the listener. I hate when I go to see an entertainer and he gets all twisted off on politics. And usually he is a pea brain high school drop-out. Did someone mention Steve Earl?
As Frank Zappa says "Shut up and play yer guitar."
8/9/2007 11:26:39 PM
Sure they regret the edit....and if you believe THAT one...
8/9/2007 10:57:37 PM
Just another corporation returning a favor to a miserable politician. See what greasing palms can do for you?
8/9/2007 9:07:37 PM
You would be amazed at how much information (and entertainment) is censored... Remember that everything you read is there for a reason... "The medium is the message."
8/9/2007 9:06:34 PM
I'm sick and tired of unpatriotic liberals picking apart the leader of the free world. Don't they know they are only emboldening the terrorists. After all, we already know that George Bush is incompetent. However, divulging that information to the enemy is akin to treason.
8/9/2007 8:04:52 PM
WHAT IS PEARL JAM ANYWAY?
8/9/2007 8:04:02 PM
it was probably their Management team trying to protect theior careers
8/9/2007 7:21:05 PM
what'd you say, hush your mouth, anyone have T-Mobile's # handy.
8/9/2007 6:26:36 PM
Well, for someone who was at Lollapalooza and saw the PJ performance I can assure you that the majority of the people in the audience happened to agree to what was being said. Me included.
About them being has beens, not sure the crowd of over 150,000 would agree with that statement. That place was packed (estimates said the crowd went back 1/3 of a mile) and they were singing from start to finish. Regardless of what you may think about them, Pearl Jam is still a band that matters and is w/o a doubt the most connected and tuned-in band to world around them. Trying getting 150,000 people to a Fall Out Boy concert 16 years after they released their first album. Hell, try getting 150.
And this was blatant censorship by AT&T. If I had their service, I would drop them.
8/9/2007 5:45:28 PM
8/9/2007 5:09:23 PM
Yes, I agree with you. The issue is censorship. No, I don't agree with everything Bush says or does, nor do I agree with everything Pearl Jam says or does, but hey, that's our right to do that.
Of course, if AT&T had simply stuck to "bleeping out" curse words or pictures of nudity, this article wouldn't even be here...
8/9/2007 4:24:40 PM
AT&T should regret even caring what Pearl Jam thinks. It's not like anyone was watching.
8/9/2007 4:08:18 PM
If you knew anything about the band you would know that pulling something as a publicity stunt is way out of character for Pearl Jam. This is a band that decided to remain low profile on purpose after becoming huge in the early 90's. They decide to not make anymore proper videos nor to release mainstream singles. It was a conscience effort, unlike other bands who fall of the face of the earth despite heavy promotion. Pearl Jam has kept producing albums, and have a big core audience base in the U.S. that helps them sell close to 1 mil. records each time, look it up.
Also, Pearl Jam attacking George Bush is nothing new. Heck they were outspoken about Bush Sr. in the early 90's. I don't agree with everything Pearl Jam says, but remember that the issue here is censorship, plain and simple.
8/9/2007 4:06:27 PM