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Edmonton station joins Halifax station's 'Money for Nothing' marathon

Classic rock fans and radio stations across Canada have decided that a ruling against Dire Straits' 1985 hit Money For Nothing simply ain't workin'.

Days after the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council ruled the song unfit for radio because of a gay slur in its lyrics, radio stations in Halifax and Edmonton planned to rebel by playing an unedited version of the song on repeat for a full hour.

Meanwhile, an outcry from fans continued to reverberate through the Internet, with commentators debating the decision furiously across various formats - "Dire Straits" and "CBSC" were both still trending topics on Twitter in Canada.

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Even Dire Straits keyboardist Guy Fletcher weighed in on his personal website, responding to fans' questions by calling the decision "unbelievable" and relaying a message from the song's writer, Mark Knopfler.

"Mark tells me that due to the ban, he has now substituted the word faggot for 'fudger'.... for Canada," Fletcher wrote.

The council ruled on Wednesday that the tune violates the industry's code of ethics because its lyrics include the word "faggot" three times.

While the decision was applauded by gay rights group Egale Canada, the program director for Halifax rock station Q104 said the station is concerned with the precedent set by the decision, calling it a "tragic error in judgment."

The station said it will have members of the gay and lesbian community on hand for its marathon, scheduled to run between 9 and 10 p.m. local time.

"We believe that this decision may trivialize the meaningful work done to further the cause of the LGBT community and could actually work against them by creating a sense of excessive political correctness at the cost of the fundamental freedom of speech," Q104's J.C. Douglas said in a statement.

Edmonton classic rock station K-97 - which, like Q104, is owned by NewCap Radio - also planned a one-hour marathon, according to a note on the station's website.

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The scrutiny of the song was prompted by a complaint from a listener of radio station CHOZ-FM in St. John's, N.L.

The panel noted that Money for Nothing would be acceptable for broadcast if suitably edited.

The ban applies to every Canadian radio station. But when reached Friday, Canadian Broadcast Standards Council national chairman Ron Cohen said the independent watchdog organization wouldn't take action against the stations airing the unedited version of the song unless another listener complained.

"It's very important that even things that we may 'know' in quotation marks are happening, that we don't deal with them unless there's a complaint," he said in a telephone interview.

"Our issue is that we're responsive to the public - if the public doesn't have a problem, we don't have a problem."

Still, he noted that such defiance was, as far as he could remember, unprecedented.

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The controversy over Money for Nothing isn't, however.

Ever since the song was released in '85 - when it hit No. 1 in Canada and the U.S. and spawned a memorable music video for then-fledgling music network MTV - songwriter Mark Knopfler has defended himself from accusations of homophobia.

He has said the song was written from the perspective of a working-class man who was unimpressed by the millionaire rock stars he saw jumping about on MTV.

The story was still receiving international press on Friday, with London tabloid the Daily Mail running the story under in its "Don't Miss" banner and Fox News using the headline "No Way, Eh!" for its take on the situation, which earned 150-plus comments from readers.

Much of the outrage seems to be centred on the fact that the song was meant with irony. But Cohen has said that the council usually considers such distinctions in context less relevant in short pop songs than in TV dramas or documentaries.

That didn't satisfy Douglas, who compared the character in the song to Archie Bunker - the irascible bigot in the 1970s sitcom, All in the Family.

"(Bunker is) one of the great fictional characters of our time, and one who illustrated how completely absurd a bigot can be," he said.

"To deny radio the right to reveal that character, warts and all, is a tragic error in judgment and puts the (council) on the slippery slope to censorship."

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