Airing Hoax Call Could Be Illegal

Business, International

The Australian radio station, 2DayFM, who was behind the prank call to the hospital where Kate Middleton was staying, could face criminal charges for airing the conversation, according to the Associated Press.

The radio station did not have permission from he parties involved to air the conversation, so it could be considered illegal.

After one of the nurses, Jacintha Saldanha, who let the call go through was found dead, owners of the radio station said that they will give her family $525,000.

After much concern of the death of the nurse, another problem came up. Whether or not the call being aired was legal.

Those in violation could be sentenced to prison, but it’s unclear who at radio station 2DayFM or its parent company, Southern Cross Austereo, made the decision to air the call. The DJs said that executives above them made the decision. A former 2DayFM host who was the mastermind behind several pranks for the station said the DJs were always involved in such decisions while she was there.

Southern Cross Austereo said the station tried to contact the hospital five times. Privacy law expert Barbara McDonald said that might be an inadequate defense.

“Seems to me that saying, ‘We tried to call,’ shows that they knew they should, and they’ve made a decision to go ahead knowing that they have not got permission,” said McDonald, who is a law professor at the University of Sydney. “I don’t know whether it makes the situation better, or worse.”

The New South Wales state Surveillance Devices Act prohibits the broadcast of recorded private conversations without permission from those involved. Violations are punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $58,000.

McDonald said that the Commercial Radio Code of Practice has a similar ban. She added that even if Australia’s media watchdog found violations, the worst punishment, loss of license, rarely happens.

The cause of Saldanha’s death is still unknown, but many assume it was related to the stress from the call. An autopsy was to be held Tuesday.

Grieg and Christian, who were behind the prank call, tearfully apologized for the prank in televised interviews Monday, after they were criticized for the hoax and death of Saldanha.

Southern Cross Austereo also apologized. They stopped running any advertising on 2DayFM following Saldanha’s death. Tuesday the company issued a statement announcing that ads would resume Thursday. They added that all profits for the rest of December will be donated to “an appropriate fund that will directly benefit” Saldanha’s family.

Southern Cross Austereo “does not consider that the broadcast of the segment has breached any relevant law, regulation or code,” said the company. Also adding that they would cooperate with any investigation.

Do you think the hoax call should be illegal?


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