Citing “strong public reaction,” the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications
Commission (CRTC) has asked the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) to review its decision to censure a member radio station for airing an unedited version of Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing” that contains the word “faggot.”
The CBSC’s decision has elicited a strong public reaction and created
uncertainty for private radio stations
across the country. The Commission has received over
250 letters from Canadians, most of which questioned the decision.
These letters have been forwarded to the CBSC.
Some of the backlash has come from within queer circles. While Egale Canada applauded the decision, musicians such as Joel Gibb of the Hidden Cameras and Ryan Kamstra of Tomboyfriend denounced it.
The CRTC request asks the CBSC to appoint a national panel to review complaints about the song as well as the original decision and to seek input from the public. The focus of the national panel would consider “all relevant factors,” including:
- the context of the wording in the song’s theme and the intended message
- the age and origin of the song and the performance date
- the prominence of the contested word and the use of that word over time, and
- the length of time and frequency that it has been playing on the radio.
The letter, from CRTC secretary general Robert A Morin to CBSC’s national chair, Ron Cohen, also reveals that many of the letters the CRTC 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.