Rihanna, CBS in spat over NFL abuse case

IMPACT: Neither CBS nor Rihanna directly acknowledged that her past history as a victim of domestic abuse had a role in the decision to scrap the song.


    Sep 18, 2014

    Rihanna, CBS in spat over NFL abuse case


    SINGER Rihanna's record label said that it refused to license a song to CBS for its Thursday Night Football programme after the TV network chose not to use the song in its season opener, because it was focused on the National Football League's (NFL's) domestic violence scandal.

    The Roc Nation label made its announcement on Tuesday after Rihanna, who was assaulted by singer and then-boyfriend Chris Brown on the eve of the 2009 Grammy Awards, railed against CBS on Twitter for scrapping her featured part in rapper Jay Z's Run This Town, along with other planned content.

    "Roc Nation made the decision to not grant the song's usage," Jay Z's Roc Nation label said in a statement.

    The record label revoked the licensing because of the way CBS handled the situation, a spokesman said.

    CBS said earlier on Tuesday that it would open the show with original theme music instead of Rihanna's singing.

    The CBS Corp-owned network, which won the rights to broadcast NFL games in prime time on Thursdays this season, did not use the song as part of its planned opening segment last week in a game between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers.

    Instead, the network covered the indefinite suspension of former Ravens running back Ray Rice for domestic abuse and an essay on domestic violence among other content.

    The United States' most popular sports league and its commissioner Roger Goodell have come under intense public criticism for the way the Rice case was handled.

    Rice was seen in an elevator surveillance video knocking his fiancee out cold with a single punch. Prior to the video's release by the website TMZ, Rice was suspended for only two games, even though he said he told Goodell that he struck the woman who is now his wife.

    Goodell said no one at the league had seen the elevator video until it went public. The player was subsequently suspended indefinitely and cut by the Ravens.

    Neither CBS nor Rihanna directly acknowledged that the singer's past history as a victim of domestic violence played a role in the decision.

    "Beginning this Thursday, we will be moving in a different direction with some elements of our Thursday Night Football open," CBS said. "We will be using our newly created Thursday Night Football theme music to open our game broadcast."

    The dispute between Rihanna and CBS intensified when the 26-year-old Barbadian singer rebuked the network on Twitter.

    "CBS you pulled my song last week, now you wanna slide it back in this Thursday," the Grammy winner said, punctuating the Tweet to her 37.2 million followers with an expletive. "Y'all are sad for penalising me for this."

    CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus said last week that the change in the broadcast reflected events.

    "We thought journalistically and from a tone standpoint, we needed to have the appropriate tone coverage," he told Sports Illustrated. CBS pulled several pre-game items including a comedy sketch.

    Criticism of the handling of the Rice case led the NFL to apologise and toughen its domestic violence penalties. Official beer sponsor Anheuser-Busch on Tuesday criticised the league for its handling of a spate of abuse cases.