Australian radio station may face penalties for royal hoax

2015-03-04 15:06
Kate Middleton. (File: AP)

Kate Middleton. (File: AP)

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Sydney - Australia's highest court on Wednesday cleared the way for a radio station to face penalties over a 2012 prank call to a London hospital that was caring for the Duchess of Cambridge. A nurse who transferred the call committed suicide after the broadcast.

Two Australian DJs from radio station 2DayFM impersonated Queen Elizabeth II and her son, Prince Charles, when they phoned a London hospital in 2012 to ask about the condition of the Duchess of Cambridge, who had been hospitalised for severe morning sickness.

Nurse Jacintha Saldanha took the call and passed it on to a colleague who described Kate's condition. Three days after the call was broadcast worldwide, Saldanha, 46, was found dead in her room.

Australia's High Court ruled that the country's broadcasting watchdog, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, has the power to find that the radio station broke the law, overturning a lower court decision.

In its judgment, the High Court said the station did not obtain the consent of the hospital's staffers to air the recording. The ruling means the watchdog can pursue penalties against the station.

ACMA chairperson Chris Chapman said his agency will now consider what sanctions may be applied, which could include suspending the station's broadcasting license.

Southern Cross Austereo, which owns 2Day FM, said the court decision has exposed serious problems with Australia's broadcasting laws.

"It is wrong for the broadcasting regulator to be able to itself decide whether a commercial television or radio broadcaster is guilty of committing an offense against any Australian state, territory or commonwealth law including laws where the ACMA has no expertise, experience or jurisdiction," the company said in a statement.

Read more on:    australia

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