Hoax Kate Middleton Hospital Call, 2Day FM's Axes Show, Suspends Prank Call

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(Credit: 2Day FM, screenshot)

Mel Greig and Michael Christian of 2Day FM — the Australian DJs who prank-called Kate Middleton’s hospital posing as Queen Elizabeth and Prince William — publicly apologized yesterday.

The apology comes days after the nurse who answered the phone at the hospital, Jacintha Saldanha, was found dead in an apparent suicide.  Greig said, “The thought that we may have played a part in that is gut-wrenching.”

As iMediaEthics has written, the pair were suspended after prank-calling King Edward VII Hospital trying to get information about Kate Middleton’s pregnancy.

And 2Day FM’s parent company, Southern Cross Austereo, announced yesterday in a statement on its website several responses to the hoax call, including canceling Greig and Christian’s show.

  • “The suspension of all advertising on 2Day FM until further notice;
  • “The termination of 2Day FM’s Hot 30 show;
  • “A Company-wide suspension of ‘prank’ calls
  • “A comprehensive review of relevant company policies and processes”

Noting that Greig and Christian are still suspended, the statement added that its own review found “company protocols were adhered to” in the prank call. The statement also included information about the editorial processes the clip was subjected to before broadcast:

“Several attempts were made by the production team to discuss the segment with the hospital, but with no success.  The segment was referred to an internal review process which included internal legal review and authorisation was granted to broadcast.”

iMediaEthics contacted the hospital asking for confirmation that 2DayFM did make “several attempts…to discuss the segment with the hospital, but with no success” before airing the prank.

Media Zoo’s Andrew McLachlan responded on behalf of King Edward VII Hospital with the hospital’s Dec. 10 statement in “support” of Saldanha’s family and announcing a Jacintha Saldanha Memorial Fund. McLachlan also included King Edward VII Hospital CEO John Lofthouse’s statement about the memorial fund and the hospital’s “deep shock” and “sympathies” for her family.  He also noted that her family “made a private visit to the hospital” and “a senior member of staff is comforting the family and offering assistance.”

SCA’s chairman Max Moore-Wilton also responded over the weekend to the hospital’s Lord Glenarthur’s Dec. 8 letter about the prank call.  Glenarthur’s letter, “to protest in the strongest possible terms,” called the prank “extremely foolish.”  Glenarthur added:

“To discover that, not only had this happened, but that the call had been pre-recorded and the decision to transmit approved by your station’s management, was truly appalling.

“The immediate consequence of these premeditated and ill-considered actions was the humiliation of two dedicated and caring nurses who were simply doing their job tending to their patients.”

Calling the “events of the last few days…truly tragic,” SCA’s Moore-Wilton commented:

“It is too early to know the full details leading to this tragic event and we are anxious to review the results of an investigation that may be made available to us or made public. We can assure you that we will be fully cooperative with all investigations. As we have said in our own statements on the matter, the outcome was unforeseeable and very regrettable.”

iMediaEthics has reached out to Sandy Kaye on behalf of SCA asking for more information about what standards and editorial levels the prank call went through before being broadcast, what the SCA “comprehensive review of company polices and processes” will include, how many SCA programs featured prank calls and what the attempts to contact the hospital before publication included. We’ll update with any response.
Hat Tip: The Associated Press

UPDATE: 12/11/2012 9:08 AM EST: Kaye sent iMediaEthics a press release announcing that SCA is reinstating 2Day FM’s advertising starting Dec. 13 and “all profits from advertising on 2Day FM until the end of the  year will be donated to an appropriate fund that will directly benefit the family of Jacintha Saldanha.”  According to the press release, “a minimum contribution of AUD$500,000 will be made.”

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After Hoax Kate Middleton Hospital Call, 2Day FM’s Axes Show, Suspends ‘Prank’ Calls, Reviews Practices

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