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Sydney radio station owners meet on prank call issue
December 09, 2012
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SYDNEY: The owners of a Sydney radio station called an emergency board meeting on Sunday to discuss the prank call crisis that apparently led to the death of a nurse at a hospital treating Prince William's wife Kate, a report said.

Executives at Southern Cross Austereo, owners of 2Day FM, were to consider a letter from King Edward VII's Hospital chairman Lord Simon Glenarthur, protesting the "appalling" hoax "in the strongest possible terms.”

"We're considering that letter and I'll be responding to them after I discuss it with my board colleagues later today," Southern Cross Austereo chairman Max Moore-Wilton told the Sydney Morning Herald online.

Glenarthur urged Moore-Wilton in the letter to take steps to ensure that the hoax call "could never be repeated.”

Asked whether he would take action along these lines, Moore-Wilton said: "I've got really no comment until I have a discussion with my board colleagues." Britain has reacted with horror to the death of mother-of-two Jacintha Saldanha, 46, who is believed to have taken her own life after she was duped by two 2Day FM presenters seeking news on Kate's pregnancy.

She was found dead on Friday, days after she answered a call at the hospital from hosts Mel Greig and Michael Christian, posing as Queen Elizabeth II and William's father Prince Charles.

Saldanha put them through to a colleague who divulged details of Kate's recovery from severe morning sickness.

The prank call was pre-recorded and vetted by lawyers before being broadcast to listeners in Sydney. The nurse's death unleashed a torrent of online anger directed at the presenters who have been taken off air and are in hiding, while reports said advertisers have suspended their accounts with the broadcaster.

While acknowledging the death was a terrible tragedy, Australian media Sunday called for a halt to the blame game, with one paper saying it was not a time for "hysterical finger-pointing.”

In an editorial, Sydney's Daily Telegraph said: "A time to grieve, not to lay blame," while hitting out at the "predictable British media frenzy.”

"Radio hosts Mel Greig and Michael Christian did not kill British nurse Jacintha Saldanha," it said.

"Suicide always leaves us looking for answers - and for someone to blame. Suicide is a complex act and can rarely be entirely blamed on a lone event, however distressing." While reports referred to suicide, British police said the death remained unexplained ahead of a post-mortem.

The Telegraph went on to say: "It is also worth underlining that the UK media is responsible for whipping up the radio prank into an international incident, increasing the pressure on the hospital and its employees.

"This is not a time for hysterical finger-pointing. It is a time for mourning." Sydney's Sun-Herald took a similar tack, with columnist Peter FitzSimons calling it "a tragedy of unspeakable proportions.”

"But to all those - particularly the British media - who are firing vicious epithets at the two radio DJs who are the public face of that prank call, blaming them for the tragedy, please get a grip," he wrote.

"Was there malice in this call? Please point it out." Greig and Christian have both apologised. Rhys Holleran, chief executive of Southern Cross Austereo, said they were "shattered" and undergoing counselling.

Agence France-Presse

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