Canada’s broadcast standards council has amended an earlier ruling which said that radio stations must censor a Dire Straits song which includes the homophobic slur ‘faggot’.

In January, the CBSC responded to a single complaint about the 1985 song ‘Money for Nothing’. A listener said the lyrics were “extremely offensive”.

At the time, it said radio stations must bleep out the word or use later versions of the song which replace ‘faggot’ with the word ‘mother’.

After reviewing the decision, the body now says that the word, although offensive, must be taken in context and radio stations have the right to play what their listeners want to hear.

The CBSC said yesterday: “The [council] wishes to make perfectly clear to those persons who have commended the CBSC for its ‘brave’ position regarding the disapproval of the hateful and painful term that it is not abandoning that position.

“It is only saying that there may be circumstances in which even words designating unacceptably negative portrayal may be acceptable because of their contextual usage.”

The complaint came after Halifax radio station Q104 played the song. After the January decision, the station played the track for an hour in protest.

Programming manager JC Douglas told the Chronicle Herald that almost a thousand listeners responded, with the vast majority in support.

He said: “They may not have understood our reasoning completely but they supported freedom of expression and artistic freedom, and ultimately that was what it was about.”

The offending lyrics are: “See the little faggot with the earring and the makeup/Yeah buddy that’s his own hair/That little faggot got his own jet airplane/That little faggot he’s a millionaire.”

Shortly after the song was first released, Mark Knopfler, who co-wrote it with Sting, told Rolling Stone magazine that gay people had complained about it.

He said: “I got an objection from the editor of a gay newspaper in London – he actually said it was below the belt.

“Apart from the fact that there are stupid gay people as well as stupid other people, it suggests that maybe you can’t let it have so many meanings – you have to be direct.

“In fact, I’m still in two minds as to whether it’s a good idea to write songs that aren’t in the first person, to take on other characters.”