September 16, 2014 / 6:04 PM / 3 years ago

Rihanna, CBS bench opening number for Thursday football

Singer Rihanna arrives for the Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards (CFDA) at Lincoln Center in New York June 2, 2014. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - R&B singer Rihanna’s record label on Tuesday said it has refused to license a song to CBS for its “Thursday Night Football” program after the TV network chose not to use the song in its season opener because it was focused on the NFL’s domestic violence scandal.

The Roc Nation label made its announcement after Rihanna, who was assaulted by singer and then-boyfriend Chris Brown on the eve of the 2009 Grammy Awards, railed against CBS on Twitter for scrapping her featured part in rapper Jay Z’s “Run This Town” along with other planned content.

“Roc Nation made the decision to not grant the song’s usage,” Jay Z’s Roc Nation label said in a statement.

The record label revoked the licensing before Tuesday because of the way CBS handled the situation, a spokeswoman said.

CBS said earlier on Tuesday it will open the show with original theme music instead of Rihanna’s singing.

The CBS Corp -owned network, which won the rights to broadcast NFL games in primetime on Thursdays this season, did not use the song as part of its planned opening segment last week in a game between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Instead, the network covered the indefinite suspension of former Ravens running back Ray Rice for domestic abuse and an essay on domestic violence among other content.

The United States’ most popular sport league and its commissioner Roger Goodell have come under intense public criticism for the way the Rice case was handled.

Neither CBS nor Rihanna directly acknowledged that the singer’s past history as a victim of domestic violence played a role in the decision.

“Beginning this Thursday, we will be moving in a different direction with some elements of our ‘Thursday Night Football’ open,” CBS said. “We will be using our newly created ‘Thursday Night Football’ theme music to open our game broadcast.”

The dispute between Rihanna and CBS intensified when the 26-year-old Barbadian singer rebuked the network on Twitter.

“CBS you pulled my song last week, now you wanna slide it back in this Thursday,” the Grammy winner said, punctuating the Tweet to her 37.2 million followers with an expletive. “Y‘all are sad for penalizing me for this.”

CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus said last week that the change in the broadcast reflected events. “We thought journalistically and from a tone standpoint, we needed to have the appropriate tone coverage,” he told Sports Illustrated. CBS pulled several pre-game items including a comedy sketch.

Goodell initially suspended Rice two games for punching his then fiancee in an Atlantic City, New Jersey, casino elevator, but later suspended the running back indefinitely after surveillance footage was published showing Rice knocking her unconscious. Rice has also been cut by the Ravens.

Criticism of the handling of the Rice case led the NFL to apologize and toughen its domestic violence penalties. Official beer sponsor Anheuser-Busch on Tuesday criticized the league for its handling of a spate of abuse cases.

Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Grant McCool

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