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The offending line occurs in the third verse, where the worker gawks at MTV showing “the little faggot with the earring and the makeup.” Two other uses of the word occur, referring to the performer having “his own jet airplane” and being a millionaire. At the time such MTV male stars as Boy George, Softcell and the Human League either dressed as women or wore sexually ambiguous makeup.

While the full “Money for Nothing” track and its groundbreaking video both contain the offending verse, some versions of the single since 1985, for both sale and some airplay, have dispensed with the whole third verse. Shortening lengthy singles for reasons of airplay time — the full album cut runs 7 minutes and the video about 4½ — is common, regardless of content issues, in the U.S., Canada and elsewhere.

The reference to “chicks for free” and a later line about “banging on bongos like a chimpanzee” also has caused criticism of the song as sexist and racist.

Mr. Cohen said those words in the edited version of the song likely could stay because “the panel found no other problem” with the song besides the gay references.

Mr. Knopfler has said he wrote the song impromptu after overhearing some workers at an appliance shop, more or less saying what the song does, and using some of the same language.

“I borrowed a bit of paper and started to write the song down in the store. I wanted to use a lot of the language that the real guy actually used when I heard him, because it was more real,” he said in 1985.

There was no immediate response to a request for comment from publicists listed at Mr. Knopfler’s website.

“Money for Nothing” was a huge international hit, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S., and the same position in Canada. It won the year’s best video at one of the first MTV Video Music Awards, received the Grammy for best rock song by a group or duo, and was named one of the Top 100 guitar songs of all time by Rolling Stone magazine.

When MTV Europe began airing in 1987, “Money for Nothing,” which begins with Sting’s opening falsetto whisper “I want my MTV,” was the first video played.