The shocking outcome to Aussie radio station royal pregnancy prank

A radio station presenter called a female journalist a “fat slag”, live on air.

Another presenter at the same station pressured a 14 year old girl, also live on air, to confirm that she had been raped.

For both of these breaches the regulator imposed a licence condition requiring it to not broadcast “material which offends generally-accepted standards of decency, demeans or is likely to demean women or girls, places undue emphasis on gender, uses overt sexual references in relation to a woman’s physical characteristics, and/or condones or incites violence against women.”

Rather than accept these conditions, the radio station appealed.

Even supporters of “free speech” (and, by the way, we’ve never had unencumbered rights of free speech) surely can’t justify a regulated broadcasting service appealing against a decision not to broadcast material that demeans women or girls, places undue emphasis on gender, uses overt sexual references in relation to a woman’s physical characteristics, and/or condones or incites violence against women.

But rather than learning its lesson, the radio station then called a hospital and used false pretences to obtain private information about a patient receiving treatment for a serious condition – again, live on air.

That is, after all, what they’ve done.  Just because the patient concerned is a member of the Royal Family doesn’t turn blatant illegality a fun prank.  The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate, have every right to expect the same levels of privacy in medical care as anybody else involved in a news story receiving medical treatment.

Now, Jacintha Sadanha, the unwitting recipient of the phone call, the King Edward VII Hospital nurse who unwittingly provided the information – and who has since been pilloried around the world as a result – has, it would appear, committed suicide.

Perhaps managers at the radio station, 2day FM, Sydney, would like to spend some time preparing its next appeal against any additional sanction imposed upon it by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

Or, it might prefer to take a long hard look at itself and ask whether their staff have lost any sense of what is and what is not an acceptable behaviour on a broadcast service.

Perhaps the shareholders of Southern Cross Austereo Pty Ltd might like to make their views known – because it seems to me that all the breaches of the Australian broadcasting codes (yet alone common standards of decency) suggest that it isn’t fit to hold a broadcasting licence – with conditions or otherwise.

I await the response of presenters Mel Greig and Michael Christian.  Up until now they regard it all as a very laughable joke.  Very few people are laughing now.

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