New Zealand radio station More FM was hoaxed by a fake interview with Tom Cruise. Hosts Simon Barnett and Gary McCormick thought they were interviewing the real Tom Cruise, but in fact ended up interviewing an impersonator, Australia’s News.com.au reported.
In an odd twist, the hoax was orchestrated by fellow radio hosts from a sister station, The Edge, the New Zealand Herald reported. Both the Edge and More FM are owned by MediaWorks. iMediaEthics has written to MediaWorks to ask if it approved the hoax in advance and if there will be any disciplinary action.
At the end of the interview with the fake Cruise, The Edge’s Jay-Jay Harvey got on the phone and said, “You just interviewed a fake Tom Cruise!” and hung the phone up, according to News.com.au. While The Edge later claimed it was just trying to joke around and prank the show, the hoax so upset More FM producer Sam Baxter that he cried on air.
After the hoax was revealed, More FM host Barnett said it was “so uncool,” “truly disappointing,” and “not funny.” Barnett also apologized and called for The Edge to apologize. iMediaEthics has written to The Edge to ask if representatives of the station have or will apologize over the hoax. We’ve also contacted More FM to ask how the alleged Tom Cruise interview was set up.
In Facebook posts after the show, More FM’s hosts and producer said they were embarrassed by the hoax and “can now see it was a joke.”
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iMediaEthics contacted New Zealand’s Broadcasting Standards Authority to ask if the hoax violates any broadcasting guidelines in New Zealand. The BSA told iMediaEthics it doesn’t say when it has received complaints about programs or whether a program has broken guidelines because it could affect any investigation. “In terms of radio pranks generally, in the past the Authority has considered a number of standards, including the Privacy and Fairness standards under the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice. The Radio Code can be found on our website here,” the BSA told iMediaEthics by e-mail.
The BSA was established by the New Zealand government in 1989, but states on its website it is an “Independent Crown Entity, which means, among other things, that the government cannot direct us in our work.” In most cases, complainants complain first to the broadcast outlet and then can appeal to the BSA.