Crisis-ridden Southern Cross Austereo is facing organised online attack from activists and hackers as the media company battles to deal with the fallout from the death of a nurse in London who put through a prank call from a Today Network presenter.
The group behind the Sack Alan Jones online campaign – which has been leading a highly organised boycott of 2GB advertisers – said on Facebook this afternoon that it would be organising a new campaign based around the weekend’s tragic events which saw Jacintha Saldanha apparently take her own life.
It followed a prank call from Summer 30 presenters Michael Christian and Mel Greig to the London hospital treating the Duchess of Cambridge for morning sickness. The duo pretended to be Prince Charles and The Queen and tricked a nurse into giving out information about her condition.
And a YouTube video claiming to come from the hacker organisation Anonymous has threatened to attack the network and its advertisers if those involved in the stunt are not sacked.
The threatening video – featuring a digital image of a person hidden by a Guy Fawkes mask and an electronically-generated voice – tells the company: “You have placed your advertisers at risk – their databases, their websites, their online advertising. We demand you terminate the contracts of Mel Greig and Michael Christian. We will not listen to any more excuses. We will not let you escape your responsibility. You have a funeral to pay for.
“We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We are amongst you. Expect us. This is not a prank call. This is no laughing matter. This is your one and only chance to make amends. You have one week to do so.”
The Today Network’s Sydney station 2Day FM has suspended advertising at least until Monday. It came after Coles and Telstra pulled their ads. The show was broadcast across the national Today Network.
The Guy Fawkes imagery is regularly used by those associated with Anonymous, which has previously been linked to the anarchic website 4chan. Anonymous is linked with denial of service attacks on the websites of organisations it opposes and has also reportedly successfully hacked databases.
Meanwhile, the Sack Alan Jones group, created after the broadcaster’s notorious comments about Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s father having died of shame, said in a posting that it was working with “an experienced journalist” to draft a petition listing its demands. The petition would focus on persuading politicians to more closely enforce rules around radio advertising.
There is no connection between Anonymous and the Sack Alan Jones group which regularly counsels its supporters to identify themselves and to pursue their wishes in a courteous manner.
In other developments, the board of SCA was reported to be holding an emergency meeting on Sunday afternoon. And police looking into the death in the UK are reported to have made contact with their counterparts in Sydney to ask for assistance with the investigation.