Did AT&T Censor Pearl Jam?

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The news is flying across the Internet:  Lollapalooza sponsor AT&T may have censored Pearl Jam’s performance during the band’s "Blue Room" Live Lollapalooza Webcast.  According to numerous reports, the telecom giant deleted non-obscene lyrics critical of President Bush.

The Blue Room is supposedly AT&T’s "groundbreaking online portal featuring exclusive musical content…."  Internet users can watch Lollapalooza performances live via the portal.

According to Pearl Jam’s website, posted yesterday:

"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."

Important issues of NetNeutrality aside, I will report back here at some point about my latest marathon interaction with this non-responsive company when our telephone lines were transferred to SBC (after the company acquired AT&T and then adopted the AT&T name).

Yeah - SBC needed a new moniker after the horrendous customer service reputation they developed here in California.  But adopting the AT&T name is rather like Lucifer changing his name to Satan and thinking this will solve his PR problems.

The old-SBC-now-the-new-AT&T (but the new boss is the same as the old boss) did respond, finally.  But only after I insisted that the company shutter all of our accounts and kill all the phone lines.  Some of these numbers have been attached to our family for close to twenty years.  It’s ludicrous and I ask again:  Why is the FCC AWOL? 

Asked my exasperated husband: "Why is the FCC preoccupied with wardrobe malfunctions when there are millions of people getting ripped off, some on fixed incomes."

With this kind of customer service experience would we subscribe to AT&T’s U-verse?  No way. 

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