NEW YORK — CBS and Rihanna are splitting up, more fallout from the Ray Rice domestic violence incident and the turmoil it has caused for the NFL.
The network said Tuesday it was permanently editing a song featuring Rihanna’s voice out of its Thursday night NFL telecasts — after the singer issued a profane tweet about it.
A portion of Jay-Z’s “Run This Town” featuring Rihanna was cut from last Thursday’s Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers game because CBS was covering the controversy over Ravens running back Rice’s assault of his then-fiancee. CBS planned to use the song Thursday and for the rest of the season, but Rihanna tweeted, “CBS you pulled my song last week, now you wanna slide it back in this Thursday? … Y’all are sad for penalizing me for this.” She added an expletive.
CBS issued a statement saying that it was “moving in a different direction” with different theme music.
Meanwhile, Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Company, which manages Rihanna and others, said that it had made the decision not to grant the song’s usage. Roc Nation said it felt CBS misled the public when it announced the song’s use for its telecasts, giving the impression Rihanna recorded specific music for the project. The company said it never saw or approved the news release issued by CBS.
The news release, issued Sept. 2, stated: “CBS Sports and NFL Network will open each game of Thursday Night Football in 2014 with Jay-Z’s Grammy Award-winning song “Run This Town,” featuring megastar Rihanna.” It said the song would be paired with a narration by Don Cheadle.
The song was one of a handful of elements CBS cut out of its inaugural Thursday night football telecast. At the time, CBS Sports President Sean McManus said Rihanna’s own history as a victim of domestic violence was one part of the decision but not the overriding one. The song was to be featured in all six of the Thursday night games CBS was broadcasting this fall, plus eight more on the NFL network.
A spokesperson for Rihanna had no immediate comment on the CBS decision or her client’s tweet.
The decision means a significant loss of weekly exposure for Rihanna’s work: more than 10 million people watched the opening of the telecast last Thursday, according to the Nielsen company.