Australian radio station 2 Day FM, which in December aired a prank phone call with a hospital treating Kate Middleton, wants the country’s Federal Court to keep the Australian broadcast regulator from moving forward with its report and investigation into the call.
Separately, the Australian Federal Police are looking into the call to see “if any Commonwealth offences are identified.” An AFP spokesperson told iMediaEthics by email:
“The AFP and NSW Police can confirm a referral was received from the UK Metropolitan Police Service on 10 July in relation to this matter.
“The AFP is evaluating the referral as per the AFP’s usual process to determine if any Commonwealth offences are identified.
“The AFP and NSW Police will be making no further comment in relation to this matter while the evaluation process is ongoing.”
As iMediaEthics wrote, back in December, 2 Day FM shock jocks Mel Greig and Michael Christian prank called King Edward VII Hospital to inquire about Middleton’s stay. The hospital stay was related to Middleton’s pregnancy with Prince George. Nurse Jacintha Saldanha answered the call from the pair, who were posing as Prince Charles and Queen Elizabeth, and connected them to another nurse who divulged some information about Middleton.
After 2 Day FM aired the prank call, Saldanha was found dead. 2 Day FM pulled the two hosts from the radio, deleted the segment in question from its website, canceled their show, suspended “prank” calls, announced a donation to a fund for Saldanha’s family, and said it would review its practices. ACMA told iMediaEthics by email at the time that it had received complaints about the program and may be investigating the matter. In February, the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service said it decided not to charge the two hosts with any crime related to Saldanha’s death or airing the tape because it wasn’t in “the public interest.”
Recently, ACMA “published a preliminary report into the incident,” and that is what 2Day FM wants to squash from moving forward. ACMA’s preliminary report addressed whether “the station committed a criminal offence or was in breach of its licence in relation to the December 2012 prank call,” Yahoo News reported. While the preliminary report is “confidential,” information about it was revealed during the case, the BBC wrote.
While 2 Day FM says the Australian legal system must make any decision about the legality of the call, ACMA wants to continue. So the two went to court.
2Day Fm wants the courts to prevent ACMA from ruling on the legality of the program, the Age explained. The station argued that by letting ACMA decide on the legality, the regulator was getting court privileges. 2 Day FM’s lawyer Bruce McClintock is quoted as saying that
“The courts are the place and the only place where determinations of criminal guilt can be made. ACMA must wait until my client is dealt with – if it ever is dealt with – in the courts system.”
Meanwhile the ACMA claimed “The idea this interferes with the course of justice is remote.”
According to media website Mumbrella, the judge is “reserving his judgment and declining to release the ACMA’s preliminary report on the matter.”
iMediaEthics has reached out to ACMA asking for more information about its report and the court battle. We’ve also contacted 2 Day FM, We’ll update with any response.