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Sunday 20 April  

Royal prank radio station under pressure on who cleared call

Published on 11 December 2012 - 11:34am
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An Australian radio network was under renewed pressure Tuesday to fully explain how its royal prank call was cleared to air after the shattered hosts said they were not ultimately responsible.

In tearful interviews Monday, 2Day FM presenters Mel Greig and Michael Christian said that while they made the call to London's King Edward VII Hospital, the hoax was vetted by others without their involvement.

"It's not up to us to make that decision (to air). We just record it and then it goes to the other departments to work out," said Greig in an emotional interview with Australia's Nine Network.

Christian added: "There's a process in place for prank calls or anything that makes it to air, and you know, that's out of our hands."

Greig and Christian have borne the brunt of global outrage following the apparent suicide of nurse Jacintha Saldanha, who fielded their hoax call.

The Indian-born mother-of-two put the call through to a colleague who divulged details of Prince William's pregnant wife Kate's recovery from severe morning sickness.

Media pressure is growing in Australia for the network to fully explain how the segment made it to air, with the Sydney Daily Telegraph claiming senior management were "dodging responsibility".

In an online report, the ABC's Europe correspondent added: "Some of the British media is asking the question, well, we still don't know who ultimately made that decision."

Rhys Holleran, chief executive of Southern Cross Austereo, which owns 2Day FM, has said the station called the hospital five times to discuss what it had recorded before going to air.

Under Australian regulations, the permission of anyone bearing the brunt of a radio prank must be sought before the call can be broadcast.

But the hospital denied on Monday that anyone within its senior management or media unit were contacted.

Holleran insisted the appropriate checks were conducted before the pre-recorded segment was broadcast, and defended the presenters in an interview Monday with Australia's Ten Network.

Asked if anyone in authority above the hosts was at the station when the call was made last week, he said: "I think that it is important that these two individuals did not recklessly just decide to put something to air.

"They went through a process," he added.

The stunt was vetted by lawyers before being aired, but no one else involved in the decision has been named.

The case has triggered demands for tougher regulation of the electronic media although Australia's press regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, has not commented on whether the station broke any rules.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said the ACMA was considering whether to initiate an inquiry beyond its usual process of giving broadcasters 60 days to respond to complaints.

© ANP/AFP

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