Did AT&T Censor Pearl Jam's Lollapalooza WebCast?


[qi:050] Ma Bell seems to be acting like the big brother. Apparently, AT&T censored parts of Pearl Jam’s performance over the weekend. Rock band was performing as part of Lollapalooza. On their website, Pearl Jam writes:

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.”

They go on and say that this is more than just the censorship of a rock band. “What happened to us this weekend was a wake up call,” they write. AT&T blamed the censorship on an overaggressive content monitor. [digg=http://digg.com/offbeat_news/Did_AT_T_Censor_Pearl_Jam_WebCast]

Gigi B. Sohn, president and co-founder of Public Knowledge, dismissed that defense, and said it was “nothing short of appalling.”

An AT&T spokesperson sent us this statement:

“The editing of the Pearl Jam performance on Sunday night was not intended, but rather a mistake by one of the webcast editors. We have policies in place with respect to editing excessive profanity, but AT&T does not edit or censor performances. We have that policy in place because the blue room is not age-restricted.

We regret the mistake and are trying to work with the band to post the song in its entirety.”



It kills me every time I see people commenting about “They (AT&T) apologized, are making good, it wasn’t AT&T”, etc, etc.

Anyone who thinks this was a “mistake” by a third party vendor, given AT&T’s history with the Bush regime, wiretapping, NSA, et al, AND taking the subject matter which was censored into consideration, REALLY needs to pull their head out of the sand.

I mean, come on, people. Wake up.


@Jacob – Let me clarify my point. The action of censorship was wrong by the entertainment company working on behalf of AT&T. AT&T however recognized the error in judgment, and made a point to let the world know they made an error and are willing to do their best to correct this error by offering the download in its entirety, completely uncensored.

If there’s a bone to pick with censorship, why not focus on Clear Channel – how do you think Kanye West feels every time he hears Goldigger and they omit the last line of the song. There’s a company that won’t budge on its stance.

Me, as an individual, am willing to give AT&T the benefit of the doubt on this. They made a mistake, they apologized to the public and made the offer to make it up. Censorship is wrong, but to blame AT&T for an over-zealous 3rd party vendor is just as ignorant.

Heather Marie

The timing of the censorship was too coincidental–this was no mistake. Sounds like a poorly-informed AT&T employee got a little too zealous in the editing room. At least the company has the good PR sense to apologize about what appears to be a disgusting attempt at political censorship in an arena that should be free of such confines: good ole’ rock & roll.


For those of you who wish bands such as Pearl Jam would just “shut up and play” I ask you this: Who else in modern (pop if you will) culture is encouraging people to contemplate what democracy was and what democracy is becoming, the dangers of restricting the 1st A, the danger of not questioning your government???


American policy is to take democracy out of the internet, other countries, it’s citizens minds etc.
Why should a concert be any different?


When was Pearl Jam last relevant??
I’m inclined to believe that that time was this past Sunday when they evidently still had enough relevance to draw 100,000 people to their performance.

In the case of At&T, people might be more willing to give them the benefit of the doubt after something like this but let’s face it… we all know what AT&T has been up to. Trust, once lost, is not easily won back.


The actual company responsible for censoring Pearl Jam was:

Davie Brown Entertainment
2225 S. Carmelina Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90064
Phone (310) 979-1980
Fax (310) 820-7277

Let them know how you feel !


The band affected is irrelevant. I find the link to a forum post about previous censorship of Tom Morello (one of the members of Rage Against the Machine, a highly political band) quite revealing. Not that any of this is any big surprise. The republic has been squandered, as the Founding Fathers foresaw, we all helped it happen, we’re ruled by the corporate oligarchy now. Best of luck.

Chief Pancake

Who cares, Pearl Jam?

Songs in the key of A – boring…

When was the last time these clowns were relevant?

Sounds like an internal stunt by PJ’s management team…

“don’t worry fellas we’ll get the spotlight on ya yet, we’ll just fiddle faddle with them internet controls and next thing you know you be fightin’ the power again in yer 40’s!”

What a joke…Eddie Chedder = Self Absorbed Hype


@Lauren: I’ll agree that this was a boneheaded thing for AT&T to do, but please don’t bring the First Amendment into it. Last I checked, AT&T was not the government (“Congress shall make no law…” and all that). It’s not censorship and it’s not a first amendment violation, it’s a business decision, albeit a stupid one. Claiming free speech violations against private entities just demeans true free speech violations (like the one here in Richmond recently where a woman and her daughter were taken into custody for unfurling an “impeach Cheney” banner at the July 4th fireworks show).


I was watching this performance live on the blue room and I felt very betrayed when the sound suddenly cut out for part of this song. I knew what they were doing and didn’t appreciate it. Honest mistake or not, what happened to the first amendment?


craig: fixing a mistake does not earn additional credibility, it should only repair SOME of the damage to their reputation. the fact that this mistake was made should cause respect for AT&T to drop by the simple fact that they made a mistake that gave the appearance of political censorship


and this ‘over aggressive content monitor’ is none other than att itself :p.

the real question here – why is pearl jam using att in the first place? and why is there even the possibility of att editing -any- part of the broadcast, rather than merely acting as the conduit (according to pearl jam’s agreement with them). this is the internet, it doesn’t need “content monitors”!

the amount you can trust an entity to do the right thing is inversely proportional to it’s size. i’ve considered the internet massively tapped for at least the past 5 years, if not more, and wasn’t particularly surprised when it surfaced that it indeed was. if you want privacy, go install pidgin-encryption, tor, pgp, etc (i listed those easiest first). learn the basics of public key cryptography, and use it!


An acceptable answer??? Since when is saying “George Bush leave this world alone” profanity?


I think anyone who criticizes AT&T in this instance is just slamming corporate America for being corporate. They gave what I consider an acceptable answer and will make up for the mistake tenfold if they do indeed make good on their promise to air the song as it was originally sung at the concert sans censors.


Pearl Jam are hippies. I miss when rock and roll was about showing and not telling. You can show people the right way without preaching to them. God bands will do anything to stay relevant.

Da Truff

ATT&T servers were too busy scanning all of our calls and emails for the NSA and this part of the streaming audio file just got dropped. Nothing sinister here!


If this is fact all I can say is what a sorry state the US of A is in.


It only take a very few evildoers an the top. The rest is taken care of by stupid and scared drones like this “content monitor” guy. He’s not evil. He’s just afraid of losing his job. This is exactly what happened in Germany in the mid thirties. Or in todays Russia for that matter. Welcome to the club USA. Pax Romana!

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