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Ottawa, 21 January 2011
VIA FACSIMILE AND EMAIL
Mr. Ronald I. Cohen
Canadian Broadcast Standards Council
P.O. Box 3265, Station D
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 6H8
Dear Mr. Cohen
Re: Correspondence involving the song “Money for Nothing” by Dire Straits
This is in reference to the decision of the Atlantic Regional Panel of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) published on 12 January 2011 which determined that the use of the word “faggot” in the above-mentioned song breaches Codes administered by the CBSC. The Commission has received about 250 letters from all parts of Canada on this topic, most of which have suggested that the CBSC made an incorrect decision, and many of which have urged the Commission to take corrective action. In this regard, the Commission notes that the provisions under which it could review the song in question (such as the abusive comment provision set out in the regulations) contain wording that is similar to that contained in the Code provisions under which the CBSC reviewed the song.
The Commission also notes that many of the letters it has 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.
In light of the national scope of this matter, the strong public reaction to the Atlantic Panel’s decision, and the considerable experience of the CBSC in reviewing such matters, the Commission hereby is taking the following two steps:
- We are sending you all the correspondence we have received in respect of this matter since your decision was published.
- The Commission is of the view that the CBSC should appoint a panel with a national composition to reconsider the matter and review the new correspondence regarding this song.
Such reconsideration should, after seeking submissions from the public by means of a public request for comments via your website, take into consideration all relevant factors, including:
- the context of the particular wording in the song’s theme and intended message,
- the age and origin of the song and the date of its performance,
- the prominence of the contested word in the song and the use of that word over time, and
- the length of time and frequency that it has been playing on the airwaves.
It would be appreciated if the CBSC could consider this matter as expeditiously as possible and issue its reconsidered decision promptly.
Robert A. Morin
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