Australian radio 2Day FM must air a three-hour media ethics program as punishment for its 2012 royal prank call to the British hospital where Kate Middleton, then-pregnant with Prince George, was being treated.
Days after the infamous royal prank call, nurse Jacintha Saldanha died by suicide. In the days following, 2Day FM axed the show that aired the call, suspended prank calls and its hosts Mel Greig and Michael Christian, reviewed practices and more. Last year, Greig spoke at the UK inquest into Saldanha’s death and apologized for her role in the call. Greig also advised journalists earlier this year to “be sensible” in reporting on the birth of Middleton and Prince William’s second child, Princess Charlotte.
Southern Cross Austereo had been fighting to prevent the release of ACMA’s report, but the Australian High Court ruled earlier this year ACMA could release its findings.
ACMA has been fighting to release its investigation into the prank call and finally has published the decision, which calls for 2Day FM to broadcast an ethics show.
According to ACMA’s “Enforceable Undertaking” agreement with 2Day FM sent to iMediaEthics by ACMA, ACMA decided last year that the prank call’s broadcast broke two clauses of the ACMA code and the licensing guideline. 2Day FM’s parent company, Southern Cross Austereo “accepts the ACMA’s findings,” the ruling stated.
As penalty, 2Day FM must “progressively enroll all personnel, including employees and contractors, involved in the management, broadcast and production of radio programs for the Licensee in a Training Course ” on media ethics by the end of the year.
In addition, 2DayFM has to air the three-hour episode that will “promote media ethics and raise public awareness of the signs and risks of bullying, depression and anxiety. All advertising within the program will be suspended or proceeds donated to charity.”
Finally, 2Day FM “will not broadcast the words of an identifiable person unless that person has (a) been informed in advance that the words may be broadcast or (b) if recorded without the person’s knowledge, they have consented to the broadcast of the words,” ACMA’s website states.
While 2Day FM has to take those measures, it won’t be pulled off air, which was a possibility. As iMediaEthics reported earlier this year, there was a chance ACMA would revoke 2Day FM’s license over the prank call.
“The combined approach of the special broadcast and targeted training program, together with the imposition of a new licence condition, presents a positive alternative to what would have otherwise been a brief suspension of 2DayFM’s licence,” ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said in a statement on ACMA’s website.
“This is a much more constructive way of ensuing future compliance by 2DayFM with important community safeguards,” he added.
Southern Cross Austereo’s chairman Peter Bush said in a statement sent by the company to iMediaEthics:
“It goes without question that 2DayFM and its presenters intended no harm to anyone as a result of the prank call. We accept the ACMA’s finding that 2DayFM was in breach when it failed to obtain consent from the nurses involved before broadcasting the recording of the prank call.
“While both NSW State and Commonwealth Police decided the matter should not be prosecuted and the station did not identify the people on the call by name, we accept the ACMA’s view that consent of parties must be obtained before such calls are broadcast.
“2DayFM deeply regrets and apologises for its breaches and has agreed with the ACMA several actions that will be taken in response to the matter.”
Southern Cross Austereo told iMediaEthics by e-mail it doesn’t have any “further information on the three hour special broadcast.”
UPDATED: 7/23/2015 9:39 PM EST