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Dire Straits’ ‘Money For Nothing’ Canadian Radio Ban Lifted

Dire Straits
Dave Hogan, Hulton Archive / Getty Images

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) announced that the eight-month ban on Dire Straits’ ‘Money For Nothing’ has been lifted! The song was yanked from national playlists on radio stations in Canada in January after a listener complained about the usage of the word “faggot” when said listener heard the song on CHOZ-FM in Newfoundland. Now, broadcasters can return to playing the song at will.

‘Money For Nothing’ was a hit for the band in 1985, and has enjoyed recurring status on the airwaves, but once the complaint was lodged, it was immediately deemed a breach of the Human Rights Clauses of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ (CAB) Code of Ethics and Equitable Portrayal Code. Much of the public didn’t quite agree with that labeling of the song and supported efforts to get it back on the air.

Veteran radio broadcasters were also appalled by the decision. “It made us look silly in the eyes of the broadcast community around the world,” writer/broadcaster Alan Cross, a 30-year veteran of the Canadian radio biz, told Rolling Stone. “I talked to people from the US and the UK and they were like, ‘What’s wrong with you people? Don’t you get it? It’s a joke. It’s a satire. You didn’t understand the context?’”

The decision to lift the band came about after the CBSC weighed what they called “considerable additional information” – such as learning that alternative versions of “Money For Nothing” have existed since 1985, proving “the band and the composer considered that there was a less offensive way of presenting the song to the public long ago” and the context in which the word is used demonstrates that “the composer’s language appears not to have had an iota of malevolent or insulting intention.”

In layman’s terms, that means there were edited versions of the song created long before the Newfoundland listener made a fuss, indicating that Dire Straits were sensitive about the weight of the word. Station programmers have the choice to play the original or any of the alternates.

The CBSC is not admitting it was wrong in yanking the song, though. The organization (or organisation, in Canadian English) said that the Atlantic Regional Panel was “correct in its view of the inappropriateness of the word” for broadcast on Canadian airwaves.

Cross addressed the CBSC’s comments, saying, “When it comes to things like foul language and discriminatory language, it’s really tough for the CBSC to rule in any direction but for the plaintiff.”

“Every single incident is taken as an isolated case,” Cross reasoned. “So what happens when somebody complains about the Tragically Hip’s ‘At The Hundredth Meridian’ with the F-bomb in it? What if somebody complains about the Who from 1978, ‘Who Are You’ with ‘Who the f— are you’ in it? Under the rules, the CBSC would have to rule those songs unplayable on Canadian airwaves because of language.”

Talk about a possible snowball effect!

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