Australian radio station 2Day FM at the center of Kate Middleton prank call “broke the law”, the country’s media watchdog has said.
The finding came in a confidential, preliminary report by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), which emerged in a court case.
The report said 2Day FM acted illegally by airing the phone call without consent.
Lawyers for 2Day FM’s owner, Southern Cross Austereo, are seeking to block the report, according to local media.
2Day FM acted illegally by airing Kate Middleton prank call without consent
The document came to light as part of their Federal Court hearing, in which they argue the ACMA does not have the power to make a criminal finding, only the courts do.
Australian Federal Police are currently investigating the call.
Nurse Jacintha Saldanha in UK was found dead in December, three days after DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian duped her into transferring a call to the Duchess of Cambridge’s hospital ward.
A ward nurse at King Edward VII’s Hospital then gave the DJs details about the condition of Kate Middleton, who was being treated for severe morning sickness at the time.
Michael Christian returned to work two months after the prank call, while Mel Greig remains off air and is suing her employer for failing to provide a safe workplace.
Mel Greig is due to give evidence in person at the London inquest into Jacintha Saldanha’s death. The inquest was delayed in July for the second time to give coroner Dr. Fiona Wilcox time to “seek more information”.
The Australian media watchdog has launched a formal inquiry into the hoax call to the London hospital, where Kate Middleton was being treated, after nurse Jacintha Saldanha’s death.
Nurse Jacintha Saldanha was found dead on Friday, three days after taking the call from Australian radio station 2Day FM.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) will focus on the 2Day FM license holder and not directly on the presenters who made the prank call.
It will be examining if “broadcasting obligations” were breached.
On Wednesday, speaking in the Commons, UK Prime Minister David Cameron called Jacintha Saldanha’s death a “complete tragedy” and said lessons needed to be learnt.
Jacintha Saldanha had taken a call from presenters Mel Greig and Michael Christian, who were pretending to be the Queen and Prince Charles, at the King Edward VII’s Hospital, where the duchess was being treated for severe morning sickness.
ACMA said its investigation would look at the compliance of 2Day FM’s licensee, Today FM Sydney Pty Ltd, with its license conditions and the Commercial Radio Codes of Practice.
ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said: “The ACMA’s formal regulatory relationship is always with the relevant licensee, and not the presenters of any broadcast in question. The ACMA will be examining whether the licensee has complied with its broadcasting obligations.”
The Australian Communications and Media Authority will focus on the 2Day FM license holder and not directly on the presenters who made the prank call
Under Australia’s Broadcasting Services Act, radio and television licensees have primary responsibility for ensuring that the material they broadcast reflects “community standards”.
Jacintha Saldanha, 46, answered the call from the 2Day FM presenters in the early hours of the morning on 4 December and, believing them to be members of the Royal Family, put them through to another nurse who gave a detailed update on the duchess’s condition.
She was found dead three days later at staff accommodation close to the hospital.
Southern Cross Austereo, which owns 2Day FM, said all profits from advertising on the station for the rest of the year would go into a fund for Jacintha Saldanha’s family.
MP Keith Vaz, who met Jacintha Saldanha’s family in Parliament on Monday night, has called on the hospital where she worked to hold a full inquiry.
He has also written to Southern Cross Austereo’s chief executive Rhys Holleran, expressing concern that the company had “not taken any steps to assist the family”.
“There has been no written apology, no request for a meeting with the family and no attempt to travel to the United Kingdom to express contrition,” he wrote.
Scotland Yard said the results of a post-mortem examination on Jacintha Saldanha would be released on Thursday morning at an inquest into her death.
The death is not being treated as suspicious and the inquest hearing in London is expected to be opened and adjourned as inquiries are continuing.
The two presenters involved in the hoax call, Michael Christian and Mel Greig, have said they are “gutted and heartbroken” over the death of Jacintha Saldanha.
International media watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists has accused Turkey of waging “one of the world’s biggest anti-press campaigns in recent history”.
The CPJ says it has identified 61 journalists imprisoned because of their work – more than in any other country in the world.
Those detained face charges including terrorism and denigrating Turkishness.
Turkey claims most of the detainees are being held for crimes that have nothing to do with journalism.
It described that CPJ’s claims as exaggerated.
But the organization’s director, Joel Simon, said Turkey’s tendency to equate critical journalism with terrorism was not justified by its security concerns.
About 70% of Turkish journalists being held are Kurdish, an ethnic minority which has been seeking self-rule in areas of the south and east of the country.
“Turkish authorities conflate support for the Kurdish cause with terrorism itself,” the CPJ says.
More than 30,000 people have been killed in a 30-year conflict between the PKK rebels and the Turkish state.
The CPJ also warned that the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan used various forms of pressure to engender a culture of self-censorship in the press.
It said that Recep Tayyip Erdogan has publicly deprecated journalists, urged media outlets to discipline or fire critical staff members, and filed numerous high-profile defamation lawsuits.
Among the cases highlighted in the report are those of two prominent investigative reporters, Ahmet Sık and Nedim Sener, who were detained for more than year while on trial, accused of involvement in a plot against the government.
The two journalists told the CPJ they had both published or were writing books about sensitive topics, including the murder of the prominent journalist Hrant Dink.
But they have denied the charges that they were aiding the Ergenekon, a secret organization led by senior Turkish military officers, which has been accused of trying to overthrow the government.