Australian radio station says no wrongdoing in royal prank call

Tue Dec 11, 2012 9:25pm EST
 
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By Morag MacKinnon

PERTH, Australia (Reuters) - 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.

Two large companies suspended their advertising from the popular Sydney-based station and a media watchdog said it would speak with 2DayFM's owners. Users of social media sites such as Twitter expressed outrage.

The hoax also raised concerns about the ethical standards of Australian media, as Britain's own media scramble to agree 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.   Continued...