The word “faggot,” used in the song "Money for Nothing" by British rock band Dire Straits, is too controversial for Canadian radio, the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) has decided.

In a ruling released Jan 12, the CBSC said the gay slur used in the song does not fit with the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Code of Ethics and Equitable Portrayal Code human rights clauses.

“Our decision says the use of the word ‘faggot’ is problematic in the broadcast area, not off the airways,” says Ron Cohen, CBSC national chair.

The decision follows a single complaint from a St John’s, Newfoundland, CHOZ-FM listener.

Radio stations like OZ are not required to be CBSC members and can leave the association if they choose. The CBSC is not a governmental organization and has no power to fine those who defy its edicts.

In the ruling, the listener’s complaint was quoted verbatim:

“A song was aired, ‘Money for Nothing’ by Dire Straits, and included the word ‘faggot’ a total of three times. I am aware of other versions of the song, in which the word was replaced with another, and yet OZ FM chose to play and not censor this particular version that I am complaining about.

I find this extremely offensive as a member of the LGBT community and feel that there is absolutely no valid reason for such discriminatory remarks to be played on-air.”

The song's second verse uses the offensive word three times: “The little faggot with the earring and the makeup”; “That little faggot's got his own jet airplane”; “That little faggot, he's a millionaire.”

Cohen says no lobby groups were involved in the decision. 

“Our job is not to conduct a poll. The issue is not numbers. The issue is whether the standard is or isn't breached. I can't speak to other groups who might not be happy. We have standards and our application to them is not reaching a threshold number of complaints,” says Cohen.

Over the years, CBSC has looked at many instances where words could potentially be perceived as gay slurs. There are two earlier decisions dealing with the British slang “fag,” which means cigarette.

“That word was in that case acceptable because of context. This is the first time we dealt with the word in length. Is it different? Maybe,” says Cohen.

The CBSC's membership is made up of private broadcasters, meaning that the CBC — which represents about 15 percent of the country's radio listeners — is not a member.
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