Eight months after Canada’s broadcast standards council declared the Dire Straits song “Money For Nothing” unfit for radio, the country reverses its stand on the 1985 hit.
You can probably guess what the council found objectionable about the Mark Knopfler-penned tune. Released during the rise of then-fledgling MTV, the song refers to musicians making “money for nothing” by releasing music videos, and uses the anti-gay slur “faggot” three times to describe a performer.
Knopfler has said on numerous occasions that he wrote “Money For Nothing,” which originally appeared on the band’s 1984 Brothers In Arms album, after observing a man watching MTV in a hardware store and making caustic remarks about the musicians in music videos. Of course, that was back in the day when MTV actually played music videos.
The song which featured Sting on backing vocals hit No. 1 on the U.S. and Canada charts in 1985 and has been constantly played on classic rock radio stations during the past 26 years.
Nevertheless, on Jan. 12 the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council declared the tune unfit for radio. The commission delivered its ruling in response to a complaint submitted by a St. John’s, Newfoundland, resident who claimed it disregarded the human rights clauses of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Code Of Ethics And Equitable Portrayal Code.
The commission’s decision wasn’t exactly popular with music fans, nor with the country’s radio stations, some of which defied the order by constantly repeating the song, according to the Associated Press.
Now there’s evidently been a change of heart. Today the commission issued a revised decision with the majority of its members saying the homophobic slur was used satirically and was not meant to be hateful in nature. However that doesn’t mean the commission thinks the word is completely OK to use on the air.
“The [council] wishes to make perfectly clear to those persons who have commended the CBSC for its ‘brave’ position regarding the disapproval of the hateful and painful term that it is not abandoning that position,” the decision stated.
“It is only saying that there may be circumstances in which even words designating unacceptably negative portrayal may be acceptable because of their contextual usage.”
Along with today’s decision the council is advising Canadian radio stations to consider their own markets and the sensitivities of their listeners in deciding whether to play the original version of “Money For Nothing” or an edited one.