Aussie radio station says royal prank not illegal

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Aussie radio station says royal prank not illegal

PERTH, Australia - The Australian radio station behind a prank phone call to a London hospital that was treating Prince William’s pregnant wife Kate said on Saturday it had done nothing wrong and no one could have foreseen the tragic outcome.

There has been renewed soul-searching over media ethics after Jacintha Saldanha, 46, the nurse who was duped by the station’s call to the King Edward VII hospital, was found dead on Friday in a suspected suicide.

The hoax, in which the radio hosts - posing as Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles despite Australian accents - successfully inquired after Kate’s medical condition, has made worldwide headlines.

On Saturday, Australians from Prime Minister Julia Gillard to people in the street expressed their sorrow and cringed at how the hoax had crossed the line of acceptability.

The hoax also raised concerns about the ethical standards of Australian media, as Britain’s own media scramble to agree on a new system of self-regulation and avoid state intervention following a damning inquiry into reporting practices.

Southern Cross Austereo Chief Executive Rhys Holleran told a news conference in Melbourne on Saturday that the company would work with authorities in any investigation, but that it was too early to draw conclusions.

He said he was “very confident” that the radio station had done nothing illegal.

“This is a tragic event that could not have been reasonably foreseen and we are deeply saddened by it. Our primary concern at this stage is for the family of Nurse Saldanha.”

Holleran added that 2DayFM radio hosts Mel Greig and Michael Christian were “completely shattered” by Saldanha’s death. The pair will stay off the air indefinitely, he said.

Two high-profile Australian firms said on Saturday that they were suspending advertising with the station.

Reuters
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