Home > News > World News

Australian media watchdog launches inquiry into prank call

Posted on Dec 13, 10:54PM | IANS

Australia's media watchdog Thursday launched an inquiry into a radio station's prank call to the hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge was admitted, which was followed by the suicide of an Indian-origin nurse.

Jacintha Saldanha, 46, who worked at the King Edward VII Hospital in Marylebone, London, treating the 30-year-old Kate, was found hanging in her accommodation by a colleague and a security guard Dec 7, the Daily Mail reported.

Saldanha was on the reception desk when she took a call from Sydney-based 2Day FM presenters Mel Greig, 30, and Michael Christian, 25, who were pretending to be Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles.

The nurse then passed them onto a second nurse in Kate's ward, who was duped into giving out details of the duchess's medical condition.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) will examine whether radio station 2Day FM and staff were in breach of broadcasting licence conditions.

The station risks being shut down if it is found to have broken the rules, the daily said.

ACMA will also reportedly ask 2Day FM's parent company, Southern Cross Austereo, to name those responsible for approving broadcast of the hoax call.

Although Austereo has repeatedly apologised for the "tragic, regrettable death" of the nurse and has committed at least USD 500,000 to a memorial fund for her family, the media watchdog has shown its determination to dig deeper into the scandal.

The radio show's producers and lawyers on duty at the time of the hoax are expected to be questioned.

Following Saldanha's death, the two radio presenters appeared on Australian TV and expressed their sorrow for the tragic consequences of their hoax call.

The watchdog will be referring heavily to the radio broadcasting code, particular a part which states that it is a breach to record a person in conversation, and also air it, without their knowledge.

Austereo also cancelled the 2Day FM's Christmas party out of respect for Saldanha, and donate the cash to two Australian charities that handle emotional, life threatening problems.