Guitarist Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits, plays his Gibson Les Paul guitar while performing during Live Aid concert for famine relief at Wembley Stadium in London, England July 13,1985. The 1980s song "Money for Nothing" by the British rock band Dire Straits has been deemed unacceptable for play on Canadian radio. — Photo by The Canadian Press
Warning: This story contains language that may be offensive to some.
Edmonton — A classic rock radio station in Edmonton says it will ignore a ruling by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council which sanctioned a Newfoundland broadcaster for playing the popular Dire Straits song “Money For Nothing “because its lyrics contain the word “faggot.”
In a statement Thursday, K-97 said it will play the song unedited and non-stop for an hour tonight “to express our deep concern about this decision and the precedent it sets” about censorship and freedom of speech.
The council’s ruling came after a complaint submitted to St. John’s radio station OZ-FM over a Feb. 1 airing of an unedited version of the song.
The complainant wrote that the song’s lyrics were “extremely offensive” to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
The council is an independent body created by Canadian radio and television broadcasters to review the standards of their content.
Co-written by Mark Knopfler and Sting, “Money For Nothing” takes the perspective of a working-class salesman watching music videos. The tune took the world by storm during the first half of the 1980s.
The song, which was the first single off of Dire Straits’ 1985 album “Brothers in Arms,” earned the British duo a Grammy for best rock performance and was the first music video aired on MTVEurope.
The council’s Atlantic regional panel weighed the song’s “legitimate artistic usage” against the Canadian Association of Broadcaster’s Code of Ethics, which in part states: “broadcasters shall ensure that their programming contains no abusive or unduly discriminatory material or comment which is based on matters of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status or physical or mental disability.”
The council concluded that “faggot,” when used to describe a homosexual man, is a word “that, even if entirely or marginally acceptable in earlier days, is 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.”
Since edited versions exist, such as one that replaces the offending term with “mother,” the council deemed OZ-FM to have breached the ethics code.
The radio station, which bills itself as “The Rock of the Rock,” must now announce “during peak listening hours” the details of the decision.
A Halifax rock station says it will play an unedited version of
“Money for Nothing” on repeat for a full hour today after the song was
deemed unfit for Canadian radio because of a gay slur in its lyrics.
The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council ruled Wednesday that the Dire Straits hit violates the industry’s code of ethics.
Q104’s program director, J.C. Douglas, says the station is concerned with the precedent the decision sets, calling it a “tragic error in judgment” that puts the independent watchdog on “the slippery slope to censorship.”
The station says members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community will be on hand for its marathon of the song, which Douglas notes is satirical in nature.
He says the council’s decision could end up trivializing the work done by the LGBT community to further its cause “by creating a sense of excessive political correctness.”
The “Money for Nothing” ban applies to every Canadian radio station.
But the council only takes action if there is a complaint, so if another
station were to play the unedited version of the song, action would only be taken if a listener took up the cause again.