Vicarious Music & Media

Pearl Jam censored by AT&T, calls for a neutral ‘Net

A bit of heavy-handed censorship of a Pearl Jam concert by AT&T this weekend led the band to fire off an open letter to fans—a letter in which Pearl Jam railed against media and ISP consolidation and called for readers to support network neutrality.

The incident happened during a Lollapalooza webcast over at AT&T’s “Blue Room” media showcase. Pearl Jam’s performance of their big 90′s hit “Daughter” morphed into the melody from Pink Floyd’s “The Wall,” and Eddie Vedder served up a pair of anti-Bush lyrics to the tune. “George Bush, leave this world alone,” he sang. “George Bush, find yourself another home.”

Fans at the event got to hear the words in all their glory, but in the webcast, the lines were censored—AT&T made the decision to silence them, apparently believing that they would prove offensive to listeners. When Pearl Jam found out about the censorship, the band posted a strongly-worded message on its web site.

“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,” wrote the band. “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.”

In Pearl Jam’s view, it’s a wake-up call for network neutrality advocates. The same sort of censorship could take place on any Internet content, and what could be done about it an a world where the only real option is… the cable company?

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