Radio hosts say prank call broadcast not their decision

By Drum Digital
10 December 2012

The Australian radio station presenters whose prank call was linked to the apparent suicide of a London nurse absolved themselves Monday of responsibility for the broadcast.

Mel Greig and Michael Christian took to local television to show their grief over Friday's death of Jacintha Saldanha, whose body was found in King Edward VII Hospital accommodation three days after she took the prank call.

The Sydney hosts posed as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles and were put through by Saldanha to another nurse who gave details of how the duchess of Cambridge was dealing with acute morning sickness at the start of her pregnancy.

"Prank calls have been done for years," Greig said. "It was routine for us."

She said it was 2Day FM management that decided to broadcast the recording, insisting they had no role to play beyond making the phone call.

"It's not up to us to make that decision," she said. "We just record it."

Christian, who also wiped away tears, concurred, saying: "It's out of our hands."

He said the pair were "shattered, gutted" by the death of the 46-year-old mother of two but stressed that what was intended was harmless fun.

"We didn't think it would have had the tragic outcome," he said. "Naturally, we're shattered. We're people, too."

Southern Cross Austereo, owners of 2Day FM, said the show the pair hosted would go off the air and prank calls would be suspended across its radio stations until further notice.

Earlier, Southern Cross Austereo said there had been five attempts to reach the management of King Edward VII Hospital before the broadcast.

"We attempted to contact them on no less than five occasions," Rhys Holleran told local radio. "We wanted to speak to them about it."

But 2Day FM's claim that it followed established protocols was denied by former employee and veteran radio journalist Wendy Harmer.

Harmer told national broadcaster ABC that the station's own rules would have obliged Saldanha and the other nurse involved to have given express permission for the broadcast.

The station's defence that it had sought to contact the hospital appeared to contradict the statement from hospital chairman Lord Glenarthur in which there was no mention of other calls from the station.

-by Sapa

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