Southern Cross Austereo’s Today Network has ended the year at the centre of another controversy after the hosts of The Summer 30 show made a prank call to the hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge is staying, and tricked staff into revealing details about her treatment.
The stunt – which saw Mel Greig and Michael “MC” Christian impersonate the Queen and Prince Charles – has made global headlines. The call came on Christian’s first day on the show.
The Princess has been in hospital after suffering severe morning sickness symptoms in the early stages of her pregnancy.
It drew angry reaction form the hospital which reportedly described it as “foolish and deplorable”.
However, it is not obvious that whether any Australian radio broadcasting codes have been breached. The network had the recording approved by a lawyer prior to broadcast and has reviewed it since the furore erupted.
One code states that the words of “an identifiable” person must not be broadcast without their consent. However, the nurse’s name was edited out of the call before it was broadcast.
Another rule states that broadcasters must “not use material relating to a person’s personal or private affairs, or which invades an individual’s privacy, unless there is a public interest in broadcasting such information.” However this rule relates to news programs only.
While the Australian Communications and Media Authority has the power to launch an investigation, it usually requires a person to have first complained to the radio station before intervening.
SCA said in a statement: “We apologise for any inconvenience caused by the enquiry to Kate’s hospital, the radio segment was done with light-hearted intentions, we wish Kate and her family all the best and we’re glad to hear she’s doing well.” The networkis still celebrating the stunt on its website as “the biggest Royal prank ever”.
The Summer 30 is broadcast across the Today Network including 2Day FM in Sydney, Fox FM in Melbourne, SAFM in Adelaide, 92.9 in Perth and B105 in Brisbane.
The Today Network also airs the Kyle & Jackie O Show which has run foul of the media regulator on a number of occasions including Kyle Sandilands’ attack on News Limited journalist Alison Stephenson and the infamous lie detector incident.
How UK newspaper the Daily Mail is reporting the incident:
A spokesperson for ACMA told Mumbrella: “The Australian Communications and Media Authority has received complaints overnight regarding the 2Day FM prank call to the King Edward VII Hospital in London.
“Under the co-regulatory model, code complaints should first go to the licensee. If a complainant is dissatisfied with the response, then a complaint can be made to the ACMA.
“The ‘privacy’ provisions of the Commercial Radio Codes of Practice apply to news and current affairs programs.
“The ACMA has no further comment to make on the matter at this time.”