Update from the BBC, the two Australian shock jocks whose prank backfired may be feeling some of the same emotions nurse Jacintha Saldanha felt when she realized she had breached her patient’s confidentiality. Their employer is feeling it where it hurts–in the wallet.
Accused of having blood on their hands by furious listeners, the Australian DJs at the centre of the UK royal hospital hoax tragedy have been taken off air as the public backlash intensifies.
As the pressure mounts, the bosses of troubled Sydney radio station 2Day FM have suspended until Monday all commercials, after some of Australia’s best-known companies, including telecommunications giant Telstra and supermarket heavyweight Coles, withdrew their advertising.
“We understand Australians are clearly angry and upset by what appear to be tragic consequences of the 2Day FM UK hospital prank,” Coles announced as news came through of the death of nurse Jacintha Saldanha.
Social media have been bombarded with comments, many castigating radio hosts Mel Greig and Michael Christian, whose spoof conversation with hospital staff in London, posing as the Queen and Prince Charles, backfired so disastrously.
The duo have deleted Twitter accounts, as a cascade of criticism came hurtling through cyberspace, including reports of death threats.
“Not so darn funny now is it? A British nurse is DEAD for the sake of a couple of cheap laughs. Shame on you!” wrote one angry contributor to 2Day FM’s Facebook page.
Speaking at a press conference, Rhys Holleran, the chief executive of Southern Cross Austereo, which owns the popular Sydney-based music station, said Greig and Christian had been offered counselling.
“I spoke to both presenters early this morning and it’s fair to say they’re completely shattered. These people aren’t machines, they’re human beings. We’re all affected by this,” Mr Holleran said.
Has it occurred to anyone that hounding Kate Middleton when she was sick in the hospital was indecent? Is public humiliation of unsuspecting people just doing their job the best we can do for entertainment?
And does Australian radio suck so bad because Australians are like that? Or is it the natural result of media monopolies including Rupert Murdoch’s grandson, Lachlan and Clear Channel International?
And Austereo Corp., which is already lawyered up?
Austereo, the corporation that owns 2Day FM, says they have broken no laws.
The CEO of the Australian radio station responsible for the prank call to the hospital treating the Duchess of Cambridge has described the suspected suicide of the nurse who took the call as “tragic”, but said he is satisfied the presenters have broken no laws.
Rhys Holleran, head of the Austereo network, which owns the radio station 2Day FM, said on Saturday the presenters could not have “reasonably foreseen” the events which unfolded.
“We are very confident that we haven’t done anything illegal. We are satisfied that the procedures we have in place have been met,” he said.
They are pulling ads on that station “to keep the advertisers happy.” This is not the first destructive use of Australian radio. Mel Greig and Michael Christian had just started in their careers, and my take is they are damaged goods for that station, but will eventually turn up elsewhere. A bad reputation is better than none in that business. 2Day FM will find replacements and keep on doing what they do. No use turning the dial, it’s all one corporate family.
UPDATE: The shock jocks, Grieg and Christian, whose prank backfired are said to be in ‘fragile condition’ and receiving counseling. And isn’t it lucky for them that no one will invade their counseling sessions?