Nurse who put through Today Network prank Royal call ‘has committed suicide’

The Today Network is facing one of the largest crises in the radio network’s history after the nurse who was taken in by an on-air prank is reported to have killed herself.

According to reports in the UK, Jacintha Saldanha was the nurse who had transferred the call from Summer 30 presenters Mel Greig and Michael “MC” Christian.

The pair put on comedy voices and pretended to be The Queen and Prince Charles seeking information about the Princess’ acute morning sickness. After the nurse on the switchboard put them through, another gave out the information.

The Today Network’s lawyers vetted the content of the call before the recording was broadcast.

Greig and Christian have been taken off the air. This morning the owner of the Today Network, Southern Cross Austereo issued the following statement:

“Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) and 2Day FM are deeply saddened by the tragic news of the death of nurse Jacintha Saldanha from King Edward VII’s Hospital and we extend our deepest sympathies to her family and all that have been affected by this situation around the world.

“Chief Executive Officer Rhys Holleran has spoken with the presenters, they are both deeply shocked and at this time we have agreed that they not comment about the circumstances. SCA and the hosts have decided that they will not return to their radio show until further notice out of respect for what can only be described as a tragedy.”

The tragedy is likely to see the Today Network facing one of its worst public perception issues yet. Previous on-air controversies involving the network have focused on The Kyle & Jackie O Show, presented by Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O. The duo saw a lie detector test on a teenage girl go wrong when she blurted out that she had been raped. And there was  a backlash against Sandilands when he labelled a News Limited journalist a “piece of shit”.

The Facebook page for the Today Network’s Sydney station 2Day FM is being bombarded with angry comments from around the world. At the time of posting, there are already thousands.

2day network facebook

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Comments


  1. Straight Shooter
    8 Dec 12
    6:51 am

  2. Broadcasting comes with an incredible amount of responsibility. That is why it is licensed. Reckless use of a licence usually incurs a penalty or in the worst circumstances, revocation.

    Let’s see if GET UP are as militant about this as they were about Jones/2GB recently. For mine, this is actually something worth getting angry about.

    Awful, just awful.

  3. Craig Ashley Russell
    8 Dec 12
    7:16 am

  4. So what does a radio station have to do to have it’s license revoked? Pull the trigger?

  5. Penguin Alert
    8 Dec 12
    7:32 am

  6. Horrible, and terribly sad.

  7. DTM
    8 Dec 12
    7:35 am

  8. I am sick of this station being a law unto itself. ENOUGH!

  9. AdGrunt
    8 Dec 12
    7:37 am

  10. Not sure this precise outcome could have been foreseen.

    But it was never going to end up well for whoever answered the phone with such a highly charged situation.

  11. Snapper
    8 Dec 12
    7:46 am

  12. Sack the DJs, fire the producers, restructure the management. Anything less after the repeated behavior of 2day FM is a cop out. If they don’t change the management, who obviously condone and by their actions/inactions encourage such behavior, then revoke their license. We don’t need these “feral” business models.

  13. Liam
    8 Dec 12
    8:08 am

  14. Their Facebook page has gone missing it seems (https://www.facebook.com/2dayfm)

  15. Adam Paull
    8 Dec 12
    8:32 am

  16. Sorry, but nothing short of a massive, massive fine (donated to suicide prevention charities) and the loss of a couple of licenses will change Austereo’s approach to broadcasting. They just don’t get it.

    Sacking the hosts wont achieve anything – sadly they were just doing what was expected of them, and they’d just be replaced by next young wannabes anyway.

    Everything about this story is just terribly sad.

  17. Bill Posters
    8 Dec 12
    8:34 am

  18. You’d think that after this many disasters Southern Cross might re-think their business model’s reliance on controversy. You’d think. But if Kyle can stay on the air, it seems unlikely they’ll make any substantive changes.

  19. zumabeach
    8 Dec 12
    8:50 am

  20. Prank phone calls are the play thing of 15-year-olds – most of us grow out of that sort of stupidity by the time we leave school. Australia’s commercial FM radio stations with their boofhead blokes and slapper shielas want to appeal to this kiddy demographic because they can make a dollar out of its free-spending ways and so they pull moronic stunts like this with the full sanction of their so called management – and then gloat about it. But this time it went tragically wrong – ooh, sorry, we didn’t mean for that to happen! It was just a bit of fun! This station needs a broom put through it from the top down or its licence should be withdrawn.

  21. Kernil
    8 Dec 12
    9:01 am

  22. Given SCA had lawyers check the audio prior to releasing it would suggest they had concerns early on. I suppose we’ll find out now how real those concerns were.

  23. wayne
    8 Dec 12
    9:07 am

  24. The opinion piece by Tim Burrows holds true for 99% except for one fact. This was a per-conceived, planned event by the station and staff of the show. While “blood on their hands” is a strong label, the sentiment is correct – they are responsible.

    They and the production team are ground zero.

    When you are part of a company that has, in my opinion, a puerile and self centered “star”, the urge to go one better much be enormous.

    Unfortunately for all concerned – they have.

  25. nick williams
    8 Dec 12
    9:14 am

  26. just horrific in every way. horrible.

    easy to jump on our high horses about the radio station but we’ve all laughed at pranks.

    We all thought it was brilliant when the Chaser got a Osama dress up through security at G8 but would the Chaser guys deserve to be banned for life if one of the soldiers on security detail committed suicide?

    not saying it’s right and not saying there shouldn’t be consequences but if we go heavy on these guys, the logical implication is that we have to ban all pranks of all kinds all of the time if there is the minutest possibility that one of the ‘victims’ takes it badly.

    not sure we want to live in that world….despite the fact that of course this is horribly tragic.

    (pretty crappy prank anyway)

  27. Patrick
    8 Dec 12
    9:38 am

  28. Pitchforks Away!

    The act and the outcome are not connected: no one could have foreseen that a prank phone call victim would kill herself, and the prank itself was just good fun. I can’t really see what they did wrong: people kill themselves every day over a range of issues, we can’t ban everything.

  29. Sam
    8 Dec 12
    9:44 am

  30. So this girl commited suicide over a prank call? I’m sorry but there was obviously something else going on. This is ridiculous.

  31. Sad and shocked
    8 Dec 12
    10:05 am

  32. No one could have foreseen this. It is a terrible tragedy.

  33. alan fox
    8 Dec 12
    1:11 pm

  34. The time has come when we can have an open season on journalists. These people need to be culled. What a filthy radio station where such actions would be condoned by both management and their lawyers. Take the presenters off air for good.
    Alan

  35. Big bag handler
    8 Dec 12
    1:13 pm

  36. If I was a client, I would not be spending a cent on Austereo.

    Way to risky, and I’ll be advising all my clients of that on Monday.

  37. jimmy
    8 Dec 12
    1:32 pm

  38. @sam depression is rarely caused by one incident, even if there were other things going on in her life, Jacintha hardly needed the fallout from this prank. Assuming it was suicide, the prank had to be a contributing factor.

    That’s right @Patrick, it’s all good fun, until someone gets hurt.

    Be nice, don’t lie.

  39. But...
    8 Dec 12
    1:43 pm

  40. How can anyone blame Michael Christian and Mel Greig for a ridiculously extreme overreaction to a mild prank call?

    I find this incredibly sad for many reasons, the first being that two people are going to be crucified over something that was intended to be silly and simple fun, even if immature. I’m sure everyone at the show was expecting to be told to “p*ss off” then the phone was answered.

    The second is that over a prank call (where her involement was two words) someone has deeemed that moment more important than the rest of their life with their husband and two young children.

    It’s a sad state of affairs all round.

  41. Bonnie
    8 Dec 12
    2:00 pm

  42. NOTHING FUNNY at all about this tragedy, never under estimate the power of words and deeds. Also, the DJ’s have not apologised as yet, they are not completely to blame but they did have a hand in this stupidity and should acknowledge it, dont be cowards as well as stupid !

  43. cjschris
    8 Dec 12
    2:20 pm

  44. This 2dayfm controversy is insane. While the link between the station and the suicide exists, it is not their fault. Just like the lie detector controversy, this isn’t the stations fault. I’ll happily back protest when it’s reasonable, but both are not. In the lie detector controversy especially, the station acted properly. In this case, nobody in the world would’ve seen these consequences as a possibility. While they should be sorry, they aren’t resposible.

  45. Brutally honest
    8 Dec 12
    2:35 pm

  46. From the article:

    Shattered: Hospital chief executive John Lofthouse spoke of their pain and sadness at the news of Jacintha’s death – and clearly linked it to the hoax call she took from the Australian DJs

    If the nurse had been suffering from some pre-disposed condition, surely, being a nurse and working in a hospital, the hospital would know about it.

    The British health system is far more stringent than our own, so let’s all not try to be mental health experts on this.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/new.....z2EQaMrCJc

  47. Billy C
    8 Dec 12
    5:03 pm

  48. Let me guess. More policies and more ‘training’. They treat the regulators like a joke.
    They don’t deserve to have a license. They are not fit and proper people to be using public airwaves.

  49. Tony VonCabbo
    9 Dec 12
    9:46 am

  50. @brutally honest

    Are you serious? You think because she was a nurse who worked in a hospital there’s no way she could have had pre-existing mental health issues? Quite naive don’t you think?

    Everyone needs to get off their high horse. The prank may have been immature but this is the mindset of their target audience. The DJS were simply doing their job, and could never have believed their ridiculously fake accents would have got them as far as it did.

    For everyone called for the station to lose their licence, there aren’t too many radio stations that haven’t done prank calls, and as far as prank calls go this one was pretty tame. Should every other station lose their licence too?

  51. AdGrunt
    9 Dec 12
    12:20 pm

  52. @TVC
    That’s an interesting variation on the Eichmann Defence.

    And I’m failing to see where the “prank” was in this call. What was the “picture of success” from this exercise?

    At best, it was attempting (and succeeding) in gaining access to the private information of a sick, pregnant woman through deception. This subterfuge caused the suicide of another woman.

    Are you really trying to defend this?

    The DJs are likely paying a heavy personal price and will continue to do so for years to come. It’s the management culture at SCA that repeatedly enables and endorses such idiocy that needs to be held accountable.

  53. Sydneynudism
    9 Dec 12
    2:27 pm

  54. A modern day witch hunt.

  55. Ann
    9 Dec 12
    6:27 pm

  56. Prank calls have been around for 30 years or and started overseas. This is a tragedy, normally you would have been hung up on in seconds.

  57. Dabug
    9 Dec 12
    11:21 pm

  58. Social media users seem to be campaigning to outlaw prank calls or provide mandatory counselling services to all callers. Seems pretty silly.

  59. Lyna
    10 Dec 12
    9:20 am

  60. I want to know what the hell is wrong with the Australian media on this. Around the world people seem to agree that there is at least some responsibility to the DJs for this, but in AU I keep seeing lines that essentially read “It wasn’t their fault because there was no malice.” ???? Seriously? Do you say that too when a drunk driver runs a kid over? Hey, no malice, just trying to get home from that party…

  61. Aidan
    10 Dec 12
    10:52 am

  62. Hang on a second folks, this is a horrible tragedy no question but has anyone actually shown a link between the poor woman’s small part in a prank call and her terrible decision to end her own life a few days later?

    Do we know what else was going on in her life? What suffering or triggering influences she endured? What happened in the days after the prank?

    We should not blame anybody until we know for sure who might be at fault.

    BTW – I cannot stand 2Day, too childish by far for my taste but I think its wrong to just jump to a conclusion that the DJ’s caused this tragedy. We simply don’t know what else went on…

  63. chris mitchell
    10 Dec 12
    11:28 am

  64. People keep saying “It’s not their fault” . Do they think the nurse would have committed suicide if they had not done this? Cause and effect. I understood that under the Telecommunications Act you have to inform someone in advance if you’re recording a telephone call. Did our two DJ’s do this? And if the Austereo lawyers vetted the stunt, did they take account of the law? I see they are now blaming the hospital for its own procedures. Talk about fanning the flames. Who’s Sandy Kaye anyway?

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/new.....nurse.html

  65. David O'Brien
    10 Dec 12
    11:53 am

  66. We have choices: just don’t listen to them, refuse to switch them on. By listening to them, you participate in their ongoing practice of cynicism and cruelty. By listening to them you invite them to ‘push the envelope’. The real tragedy here is a network that demanded more and more sensation from their announcers. Comedy is a great weapon and an appropriate assault when it goes against pretention and posturing and reveals it for what it is. But this was cheap and nasty in its concept and resulted in lazy bullying.
    The need to grab attention by sinking beyond the lowest common denominator is ever present. Comedy is in the same category as horror movies. . the death of suspense has resulted in a constant use of shock and repulsion. Brave New World eh!!

  67. Anon
    10 Dec 12
    12:20 pm

  68. I still find it hard to understand why anyone (DJ, producers, average person on the street) would think prank calling a hospital is funny! It is a place where people who are sick and need treatment beyond what is available from GP’s go to. That’s what gets to me most about this whole thing. Surely media boundaries would consider some places off limits.

  69. thiru
    10 Dec 12
    8:44 pm

  70. Surely this is not the first time a prank like this has been played on an unsuspecting individual. the same people who are condemning the two radio hosts have laughed at the Chaser team whom I thought was not funny, Matt Tilleys gotcha calls on foxfm Melbourne. People please shift your thinking and be a bit more matured in outlook. How many times has this been done? Just because it went wrong is no reason to say the action itself was wrong. It has been going on for years.

  71. PM
    11 Dec 12
    10:20 am

  72. And this is exactly why suicide and suicide prevention need to be more thoroughly dealt with by the education system.

    It shocks me that incredibly close-minded people can seriously think that the prank phone call was the catalyst for the death of the nurse in question. That is a horribly childish perception of suicide. Given that we know next to nothing about her mental state and her life in general, it is just as easy to say that she had this whole thing planned already and prank or no prank it was going to happen. The path to suicide isn’t usually as short as three days after a prank call.

    Grow up guys, seriously.