AT&T calls censorship of Pearl Jam lyrics an error

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - AT&T Inc said on Thursday a company it hired to handle the cybercast of a live concert by U.S. rock band Pearl Jam erroneously omitted lyrics criticizing U.S. President George Bush that were in a song performed by the band.

Eddie Vedder performs at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, May 9, 2006. REUTERS/Mike Cassese

“Those lyrics in no way, shape or form, are something that should have been edited,” AT&T spokesman Michael Coe said.

The censored lyrics, “George Bush, leave this world alone” and “George Bush, find yourself another home”, were sung to Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” into which Pearl Jam segued while performing “Daughter”.

“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,” the band said in a posting on its Web site,

Coe said, “We regret that this happened and we’re upset. We’re working with our vendors to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

The performance in Chicago, part of the band's Lollapalooza tour, was carried on AT&T's "Blue Room" Web site,

In a posting on that site, AT&T said “the editing of the Pearl Jam performance on Sunday night was a major mistake by a Webcast vendor ” and that it was contrary to its policy.

“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,” Pearl Jam said on its Web site.

“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,” the band said.

Coe said AT&T was trying to work with the band to get its permission to post the song in its entirety on the “Blue Room” site.

On Thursday, the band posted the edited and unedited versions of the performance on its Web site.