Edmonton rock station to play banned Dire Straits song

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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

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.

Organizations: Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, MTVEurope.The council, Canadian Association of Broadcaster

Geographic location: Edmonton, Newfoundland

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Recent comments

  • Andy
    January 15, 2011 - 08:02

    I heard about this two days ago when a local Aussie radio station made comment about a song being banned in Canada and then played the song. I knew immediately the word that caused the drama, but banning the song? That it was a fellow Newf who made the complaint only makes it worse! As so many have said already, what next? I know, let's ban those wonderful Newfie jokes so many all over the world love to throw around, as they clearly debase us Newfs (never mind a Newf wrote them). Nah, better to have a sense of humour and mumble something about sticks and stones ......

  • Dana
    January 15, 2011 - 00:34

    I would like to know how come OZFM can play songs that are derogatory towards women and nobody complains. But yet, they get one complaint about this song using the same "f" word three times and it has to be either edited or is totally banned.

    January 14, 2011 - 22:33


  • Wish
    January 14, 2011 - 19:45

    Seriously, I am a lesbian and not in any way offended by this song. It's how old?????? Someone needs to get a life and stop making mountains of out mole hills, really! I guess someone wants to make a name for themselves by getting this song off the air, let it go, don't be so darn touchy...

  • Frank Lind
    January 14, 2011 - 14:19

    Jennifer, as a member of the LBTG community, I am embarrassed that apparently neither you, nor the original complainant can differentiate between a slur directed at a gay man, and an insult directed towards an ignorant heterosexual. If it is all about the word itself, and context and intention mean nothing, I insist that you and the original complainant explain why it is acceptable for some milk containers to read "Homo". Seriously. After all, even though no one reading that word on a milk container would think it was there to denigrate homosexuals, the fact remains, the word "Homo" is offensive.

  • Trevor
    January 14, 2011 - 14:18

    To Jennifer McCreath, If you actually dug a little deeper with your research you would realize the lyric was not intended to be a slight against homosexuals but was actually a personal shot at the rising fad of pop music that was starting to emerge in the early 80's. Bands like Culture Club, Men Without Hats, Wham etc were on the scene and Knoplfer was referring to the way the dressed (make up, big hair, eareings etc) and called them "faggots" for their looks not for the sexual orientation. The really ironic thing is Knoplfer was actually really good friends with Freddy Mercury so him writing songs with intentions to be hurtful towards the homosexual community would be highly doubtful.

  • RB
    January 14, 2011 - 13:37

    Embarrassing for Canada!!

  • ugotmail
    January 14, 2011 - 13:07

    well they better start swinging the axe on alot of songs with sensitive content in the lyrics! G and R's" one in a million" mentions immigrants and faggots...how silly and sad they can suppress music from another time!

  • Jennifer McCreath
    January 14, 2011 - 12:11

    well, i did some research and took note that Part VI of the CBSC Equitable Portrayal Code clearly states that it is a violation to broadcast content that includes negative stereotyping, negative portrayal, or stigmatization, of individuals or groups. although it may have been acceptable in 1985 to negatively portray, stigmatize, or stereotype, femininely dressed male rock stars, through a homophobic slur, this is not acceptable in today's world. many members of the LGBT community in Canada face employment discrimination, ridicule, exclusion, bullying, and violent hate crimes from intolerant homophobic citizens. while censoring this song won't necessarily stop all of this, it sends an important strong message to society that these actions will no longer be tolerated in our Country. although i can't relate to being a glam rock star (although i was once actually mistaken for being a rock star when i was in Denmark last summer), as a vocal member of the trans community, i can attest that transwomen all over the world are also often mistaken for being feminine men and/or mistaken for being homosexual men, and often face derogatory terms, such as f@ggot, said towards us by others as a token of intolerance and hatred. So i say kudos for the 21 year old local who took action. while many seem upset at the censorship, citing 'freedom of speech' violations, the issue here is that freedom of speech rules do not apply to hate literature, which in this case, appears clear. i also say Kudos to the CBSC for having policies and procedures that ensure respect for the acceptance of human diversity and the integrity of human rights and equality.

  • Darrell
    January 14, 2011 - 12:01

    I'm going to download the original version on iTunes now and play it in the truck ... it's ridiculous how someone could be so sooky ... what's next? Ban "Fat Bottom Girls" because someone who has junk in the trunk is offended ... give me a break.

  • Jim
    January 14, 2011 - 11:53

    hahaha too funny. I just watched Archie Bunker the other night and it actually serves as a good reminder of bigotry, not as a role model. Too funny.

  • Political Watcher
    January 14, 2011 - 11:36

    We have to draw the line somewhere; it is becausse of decision like this one that we can't enjoy things of the past and things created in another time. Very few stations will run re-runs of "All in the Family", Bugs Bunny Cartoons are edited so much that they are no longer enjoyable and the list goes on. I enjoy to the fullest th antics of Archie Bunker; I laughed right into my twenties at Bugs Bunny and have enjoyed Dire Straits fo most my life and guess what? I am not a racist, I am not a violent person and I do not judge a person on their religious beliefs or sexual orientation. While there are songs and lyrics that I feel crosses the line, we have to exercise reasonable judgment and more open-mindness when undertaking these type of reviews.

  • Scott
    January 14, 2011 - 11:30

    But it was totally acceptable for the HBO broadcast of 24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road to the NHL Winter Classic to play on television on New Year's Day for all ages to hear their hockey idols using the foulest language imaginable... It's not oky to broadcast faggot but it is ok to let children here the superstars of hockey use f**k indescriminately on television. I guess I must be old-fashioned or something...

  • Max
    January 14, 2011 - 11:25

    I guess we should change the names of various sports teams because they might be offensive to Natives. Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Braves, Edmonton Eskimos Get a life people . There is such thing as being too political correct . get over it and move on.

  • Kelly Doiron
    January 14, 2011 - 11:13

    I don't understand. We are not Americans so why are we trying to erase the bits of our history and culture that people don't like now? That song was written in the 80's; it was an entirely different time. Plus, it was during the time that Elton John was outed. Remember the media hype around that? MY question is why are we sensoring music? And, why can you still write the word in question over and over? How come THAT is not offensive?

  • Kelly Doiron
    January 14, 2011 - 11:11

    I don't understand. We are not Americans so why are we trying to erase the bits of our history and culture that people don't like now? That song was written in the 80's; it was an entirely different time. Plus, it was during the time that Elton John was outed. Remember the media hype around that? MY question is why are we sensoring music? And, why can you still write the word in question over and over? How come THAT is not offensive?

  • Jim
    January 14, 2011 - 10:59

    WOW, how trival. There are bigger things going on in the world.

  • billybear
    January 14, 2011 - 10:53

    I wonder who was the nut who complained about this song !!!

  • redrantingtory
    January 14, 2011 - 10:42

    What's next? Burning of books? Destruction of property if people who don't support the ban? Are we sinking back in time to a a date when the paranoid word police ruled radio, television and print? This whole idea as been taken out of context. The use of the word in the song was taken out of context as songs words were written from the conversation of a bunch of prejudiced construction workers and was meant to show just how ignorant some people can be. The idea of art is lost on some people.

  • Edmund
    January 14, 2011 - 10:14

    What BOZO or BIMBO (woops, hope I never offended any gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people by using these words) in this province (NL) would make such a complaint. This ranks right up there with Cabana trying to get his five minutes of fame. In 1980's and after, "fagot" was a term that was used, rightly or wrongly, and so it seems without concern for all of these years. I suggest that whoever made this complaint get a normal life without the obvious boredom that he or she has, to make a more positive contributions to society. Will the word "Newfie" now be stricken from the songs, jokes, books etc. etc. just because one person complains about it? Everyone else has the freedom of speech and the majority of music listners, it seems, do not want any changes made to this or any other explicit songs written and produced by great musicians no matter what year they were released. I now have another reason to dust off my "Brothers in Arms" album and give this great song a few spins without intimidation from some bleeding heart. Go get a life if you can get your head out of the uh....sand!!

  • Janice
    January 14, 2011 - 10:10

    Wow do newfies ever need a life. First suing moose, now a song? This female/male needs a life, and all songs especially RAP will have to be banned. If you don't like the song, don't listen to it. CRTC bans a song over one idiot? So what is next? here is a thought, get a job and do not listen to music then you won't be offended.

  • Sparky
    January 14, 2011 - 09:59

    This is why this world is in such-a-mess, people are getting paid big money to monitor those songs from 30years ago!, lawyers love this stuff, ching-ching!! This world will be no-better until,we get some working class people in power.