Hit Network to air ad free mental health show as part of royal prank call punishment

acma 2DAYFMSouthern Cross Austereo’s Hit Network is set to broadcast a mental health awareness show called Press Pause on Tuesday as part of its punishment from the media watchdog for airing the royal prank call.

The three-hour long ad free show Press Pause is part of a deal it struck with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) in July, after SCA was found to have breached broadcast codes by playing the prank call in December 2012, after which British nurse Jacintha Saldanha took her own life.

Tuesday’s broadcast across the network’s 42 stations between 7-10pm will deal with a range of mental health issues including suicide and self harm and is aimed at young people. Hosted by Jules Lund and Bianca Dye it will feature content from the likes of Hugh Jackman and Ricky Martin in a bid to raise awareness of the issues.

Mental health ambassador: Jules Lund

Mental health ambassador: Jules Lund

Mental health ambassador Lund said: “There’s something incredibly liberating hearing your favourite stars admit they struggle at times. It’s simple yet powerful. I am honoured to bring these messages to our listeners, and ask them to join us for #presspause.”

Celebrities will also give their first hand accounts of living with mental health challenges including TV host Osher Gunsberg , models Ashley Hart and Nick Bracks, performers Olly Murrs, Troy Sivan and Anja Nissen, and journalist Mia Freedman.

The controversy centres on a Southern Cross Austereo broadcast from December 2012 where it broadcast a prank call which saw hosts Mel Greig and Michael ‘MC’ Christian, who were impersonating Prince Charles and The Queen, put through to the ward where the then pregnant Duchess of Cambridge was being treated for acute morning sickness.

Jacintha Saldanha, the nurse who put the call through to the ward, took her own life days later.

July’s deal followed a lengthy court battle, and saw SCA avoid having its licence suspended by the ACMA, which could have cost it tens of thousands of dollars.

SCA was found to have breached the broadcast code of practice by broadcasting the words of an identifiable person without consent; and treating participants in a live hosted entertainment program in a highly exploitative

As part of the agreement the network ordered to broadcast a three hour show to “raise public awareness of the signs and risks of bullying, depression and anxiety”, which must be ad free, or with ad proceeds donated to charity.

Air space is being donated during the show to charities Lifeline, Kids Helpline, Beyond Blue, Headspace, The Reach Foundation, and Batyr.

The presenters will be joined by Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley to discuss the statistics around self-harm and suicide amongst the current generation – and what the government is doing to manage the issue.

They will also speak with experts in mental health including Batyr founder, Sebastian Robertson, Mental Health Australia’s Chris Wagner and REACH Foundation’s CEO Trish Squires. Adding to this conversation is The Ethics Centre’s Dr Matthew Beard who will discuss ethics in the media, what really is “in the public’s interest”, and the basis of good decision making.

In a bid to expand the amplification of the show the broadcaster is working with Twitter and has coined the hashtag#presspause.

Shazam has also created an integration meaning people using the audio recognition app during the show can get interactive contacts for the organisations featured, and how to reach out for help.

Alex Hayes



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