Canada's radio censor has overturned its earlier ban on Dire Straits' Money For Nothing song playing on local airwaves.
The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council reviewed a January 2011 decision by its Atlantic Canada panel on the1980s
Dire Straits hit song.
That original decision concluded the use of the anti-gay slur faggot three times in its lyrics breached industry codes on human rights.
In its latest ruling, the CBSC said the Atlantic censors were correct in
deeming the word faggot may sometimes be inappropriate for broadcast on Canadian airwaves. But this was not one of those times.
The CBSC's national panel concluded:
There may be circumstances in
which even words designating unacceptably negative portrayal may be acceptable because of their contextual usage. The ad hoc National Panel finds this is one such occasion.
Canada's TV censor (CRTC) has ordered the country's radio censor (CBSC) to reconsider its ban on the Dire Straits song Money For Nothing .
The TV and radio censor had decided that Money For Nothing should not air on the Canadian
The CBSC's decision has elicited a strong public reaction and created uncertainty for private radio stations across the country, the CRTC said in its decision. The TV censor said it has received around 250 letters from
Canadians since the CBSC decision, most of which opposed the ruling and have been passed on to the broadcast censor.
The ruling that a British pop song which hasn't aired widely on the radio for a quarter-century, and which questioned MTV's
star-making machinery with apparent irony, has struck a chord among Canadians quick to criticize political correctness and the Nanny State.
The CRTC was also apparently forced to respond to the censorship debate after a host of radio stations in
the last week defied the CBSC decision and aired the original version of Money For Nothing unedited.
The Canadian music censor is being defiant after a wave of criticism over its decision to ban the nation-wide broadcast of an uncut Dire Straits song containing the word faggot.
Ronald Cohen, the national chair of the Canadian Broadcast
Standards Council (CBSC), told QMI Agency he sees nothing wrong with the fact one person was able to stop every private radio station across Canada from playing the popular 1985 song Money for Nothing.
The number of complaints is
irrelevant, Cohen claimed: Everybody is on our back about it (but) I think it was absolutely the right decision. This was a word that has no place today on the airwaves.
Cohen is unconcerned that the public was shut out from CBSC's
deliberations and sees no problems with the fact that neither broadcasters nor Canadians have any avenues to appeal the decision. If there was an appeal process, it would be cumbersome, he said.
Dire Straits' keyboardist Guy Fletcher joined
a chorus of fans on his website calling the ruling outrageous and the council's decision hilarious for having missed the point of the band's song about homophobia. What a waste of paper, he wrote of the decision.
Caledonia Civil Liberties Association's David Eby called the CBSC's decision very patronizing and suggested the federal broadcast censor, the CRTC, should take over its functions to ensure some public oversight: It is difficult for us to
understand how this private body can have such a profound influence on what Canadians see and hear without any accountability .
The CBSC has been the private broadcasters' self-regulator since 1990, when they decided they didn't want the
federal regulator to oversee their content. Although neither body has the power to levy fines or stop the broadcast of any songs (even those banned), the CRTC can revoke television or radio licences or refuse to renew them when they are about to lapse.
The Dire Straits song, Money For Nothing, has been banned from Canadian radio because it is deemed homophobic.
The song, written almost 30 years ago, uses the word faggot in the verse:
little faggot with the earring and the makeup. Yeah buddy, that's his own hair. That little faggot got his own jet airplane. That little faggot he's a millionaire
The Canadian Broadcasts Standards Council has ruled
that any radio station wishing to play the song must edit or bleep out the offending word, which appears three times.
In its ruling the Standards Council said that even if entirely or marginally acceptable in earlier days, [the word 'faggot']
no longer so. The societal values at issue a quarter century later have shifted and the broadcast of the song in 2010 must reflect those values, rather than those of 1985 .
Later versions of Money For Nothing replace the word faggot
with mother , which the Standards Council said the radio station should have played instead.
One listener had complained that the song was extremely offensive to lesbian, gay and bisexual people, the Vancouver Sun reports.
I'm not sure about other UK radio stations,
but both commercial radio stations in Peterborough, Connect FM and Heart (formerly Hereward) have been playing an edited version of the song for a number of years now, which totally omits that particular verse.
Newcap programmer Steve Jones said that Canada's Broadcast Standards Council went too far in banning the original 1985 Grammy-winning version of Money For Nothing.
He said: If you listen to the context of the terms, you will realize it
is an artistic portrayal of a bigoted person looking at the riches and excesses of the music industry. (The lyric goes That little faggot with the earring and the makeup/Yeah, buddy, that's his own hair/That little faggot's got a jet airplane/That
little faggot, he's a millionaire.)
K97 added that LGBT supporter Elton John has performed the song as written.
So on 14th January, the radio station CIRK and Newcap sisters Q104 and K-Rock protested about the dangers of censorship .
They looped the unedited version of Money For Nothing for a whole hour.
They've also invited representatives from the gay community to participate.