Money for Nothing review needed: CRTC

The CRTC wants a second look into the recent decision to ban the unedited version of the Dire Straits song Money for Nothing from Canadian radio.

Regulator urges broadcast council to reconsider ban on unedited Dire Straits song

Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler, seen performing in June 1988, has said the disputed lyrics in his 1985 hit Money for Nothing portray a real-life character unimpressed with rock stars of the era. ((Photo by Dave Hogan/Hulton Archive/Getty Images))

The CRTC wants a second look into the recent decision to ban the unedited version of the Dire Straits song Money for Nothing from Canadian radio.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is urging the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) to review the decision made earlier this month by its Atlantic Regional Panel.

The panel deemed the Grammy-winning 1985 rock tune unfit for Canadian radio in its unedited version, after a listener of CHOZ-FM in St. John's complained about the use of the word "faggot" in the song's lyrics.

The broadcast regulator reported receiving more than 250 complaints from the public over the CBSC's decision. 

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council is an independent, non-governmental watchdog representing Canada's private broadcasters. Its membership includes more than 700 private Canadian radio and TV stations.

The CRTC regulates and supervises Canada's broadcasting and telecommunications systems and reports to Parliament through the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

In a letter sent on Friday, the CRTC also noted "that many of the letters it has received mistakenly have assumed that it was the commission, and not the CBSC, that determined that the version of the Dire Straits song containing the contested derogatory word was inappropriate for radio airplay. 

"The volume of letters and perceived overlap of responsibilities between the commission and the CBSC has created uncertainty for the public and for radio stations requiring information on the continued appropriateness of playing that version of the song," CRTC secretary general Robert Morin said in the letter.

Along with forwarding the related correspondence to the broadcast council, the CRTC also recommends the group appoint a national panel to seek public comments on the issue and ultimately to reconsider the matter.

In its ruling, released Jan. 12, the broadcast council said the unedited version of Money for Nothing contravenes the human rights clauses of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters' Code of Ethics and Equitable Portrayal Code.


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The group noted, however, that the song would be acceptable in an edited version.

The ruling sparked massive public disapproval, made headlines both nationally and abroad, and even sparked a few radio stations to play the banned version repeatedly in protest.

Many emphasized that the offensive word in the song was meant ironically. The song's writer and band frontman, Mark Knopfler, has said the lyrics portray a real-life retail store worker who was unimpressed with rock stars like him.

With files from The Canadian Press