TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada’s broadcast regulator has jumped into the furor surrounding a Grammy Award-winning Dire Straits song from the 1980s, calling on an industry watchdog to reconsider its decision that the lyrics should be censored.
The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) ruled that radio stations should cut the word “faggot” from the lyrics of “Money for Nothing” as the term was offensive to gay men.
The industry-sponsored agency made its ruling last week after a complaint to a radio station in Eastern Canada.
The federal broadcasting regulator, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), asked the CBSC on Friday to revisit its ruling.
It said it had received more than 250 complaints about the decision, many of which had mistakenly assumed the federal watchdog had issued the censorship decree.
“Given the exceptional nature of this situation, the commission has asked the CBSC to appoint a panel with a national composition to review the complaints regarding the Dire Straits’ song as well as its original decision,” the CRTC said in a statement.
While the CBSC’s Atlantic regional panel sanctioned only OZ FM in St. John’s, Newfoundland, following the complaint, the CRTC said the ruling had created uncertainty for radio stations across Canada.
In a letter sent to the CBSC, the regulator said any review should consider the language in the context of the song’s message, the age of the song and the frequency with which it had been played on the airwaves.
The CBSC is a non-governmental industry group set up in 1990 by private broadcasters to administer ethical standards.
In its ruling, the CBSC said it realized Dire Straits used the word sarcastically and its use might have been acceptable in 1985, but said it was now inappropriate.
The ruling came in the wake of an uproar sparked by a U.S. scholar who decided to publish an edition of Mark Twain’s novel “Huckleberry Finn” that would remove the word “nigger” to make it less offensive to some readers.
Reporting by Alastair Sharp; editing by Rob Wilson