CBSC Rules 'Money For Nothing' Lyric Doesn't Breach Canadian Broadcast Code
August 31, 2011 at 2:33 PM (PT)
Finally making its ultimate ruling on the broadcast-worthiness of DIRE STRAITS' 1985 hit "Money for Nothing," the CANADIAN BROADCAST STANDARDS COUNCIL ruled that the use of a slur word referring to gays in the lyrics did not breach the Human Rights clause and other clauses of the CAB code because while the word itself is a breach of the code, "there may be circumstances in which even words designating unacceptably negative portrayal may be acceptable because of their contextual usage. The ad hoc National Panel finds this one such occasion."
Noting that alternate versions of the song are and have been available since its release 26 years ago, the CBSC said that "to the extent that broadcasters wish to respect that sensitivity of members of their audience, they have the option to make that airplay choice without any editing of the song on their part. While, for the reasons given in this decision, the ad hoc National Panel concludes that the original version does not breach the private broadcasters’ codified standards, it would encourage broadcasters to make the airplay choice appropriate to their market."
The ruling came after a regional panel ruled the song a violation of the Code; in reviewing the case, the ad hoc national panel decided that the word in context of the lyrics (dismissive commentary by an appliance store delivery worker while watching music videos) justified leaving the decision whether to air the unexpurgated version or not to local stations. One dissenting member of the panel said that the context should not be within the lyrics of the song but from the introduction on the actual broadcast, asserting that while older listeners understand the context from seeing the video and hearing the song over the years, that "leaves out a whole demographic of younger individuals, say, those under 30, who would probably be unable to supply the missing context, not to mention those of any age who might not be familiar with the back story of the composition."