2011 – Money For Nothing banned 25 years after release
Canadian broadcasters stop playing original version of Dire Straits classic after just one complaint
Classic Dire Straits track Money for Nothing has been banned from public broadcast in Canada – after receiving just one complaint 25 years after its release.
The global hit single came out on the band’s iconic fifth album, Brothers in Arms, in May 1985 and won a Grammy for best rock performance the following year.
But the original version included the word “faggot” referring to homosexuals, and although a cleaned-up edition was made available, Oz-FM in Newfoundland played the first edition in February last year.
The result was a single complaint – but the self-regulating Canadian Broadcast Standards Council has upheld it, and no outlet in the nation can now play Money for Nothing the way Dire Straits intended it to be heard.
The complaint said: “Money for Nothing was aired and included the word ‘faggot’ a total of three times. I am aware of other versions of the song and yet Oz-FM chose to play and not censor the version I am complaining about. As a member of the LGBT community I feel there is no reason for such discriminatory remarks to be played on air.”
Dire Straits mainman Mark Knopfler has fielded angry reaction to the lyrics since the song first came out. He has pointed out the song is written from the viewpoint of a stupid character who thinks musicians make their “money for nothing” and his stupidity is what leads him to make ignorant statements.
Speaking in 1985 he said: “Apart from the fact that there are stupid gay people as well as stupid other people, it suggests that maybe you have to be direct. I’m in two minds as to whether it’s a good idea to take on characters and write songs that aren’t in the first person.”
Alan Cross of Canadian service ExploreMusic comments: “The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council is run by Canada’s private broadcasters. In exchange for the government not meddling, broadcasters have long promised to regulate themselves.
“It’s seen as much preferable to the arrangement in the US where the FCC – a government organization run by political appointees – carries a very heavy hammer when it comes to regulating broadcast content; or in the UK where Ofcom plays a similar role.
“In Canada, if no one complains, the feeling is that there’s no need to censor it. But all it takes is one person making one complaint for the entire apparatus of the CBSC to come to full gallop.
“I’ve had to deal with literally hundreds of CBSC complaints over the years, and I’ve developed a healthy respect for the organisation. I like its flexibility and how it adapts to changing public tolerances and expectations. I may not always agree with some CBSC rulings, but our system is far, far better than what the US or even the British have to deal with.”