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Australian radio chair: Station reviewing policy
LONDON (AP) - The reverberations from the death of a nurse who accepted a hoax phone call about the ill Duchess of Cambridge spread through two countries Sunday, as Australian authorities said London police had contacted them about a possible investigation.
The Australian radio station behind the call also announced an immediate review of its broadcast practices after the debacle, which began with a prank call made Tuesday to the hospital where the former Kate Middleton was being treated for acute morning sickness.
Two radio DJs managed to impersonate Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles and received confidential information about the Duchess’s medical condition, which was broadcast on-air. The controversial prank took a dark twist three days later with the death of nurse Jacintha Saldanha, a 46-year-old mother of two, who was duped by the DJs despite their Australian accents.
The death has sparked an angry backlash against the DJs, who have been taken off the air indefinitely.
After an emergency meeting Sunday, Max Moore-Wilton, the chairman of parent company Southern Cross Austereo, which owns the 2DayFM radio station, said in a letter to the hospital’s chairman that the company will cooperate with any investigation.
“It is too early to know the full details leading to this tragic event and we are anxious to review the results of any investigation that may be made available to us or made public,” he wrote. “I can assure you we are taking immediate action and reviewing the broadcast and processes involved.”
“As we have said in our own statements on the matter, the outcome was unforeseeable and very regrettable,” he wrote.
Police have not yet determined Saldanha’s cause of death, but people from London to Sydney have been making the assumption she died because of stress from the call.
Both DJs involved apologized for the prank before Saldanha’s death. Their Twitter accounts have been taken down after they were bombarded by thousands of abusive comments.
A spokeswoman said Sunday the two DJs want to speak out about Saldanha’s death.
The station has a history of controversy, including airing a segment in which a 14-year-old girl revealed that she had been raped. It also ran a series of “Heartless Hotline” shows in which disadvantaged people were offered a prize that could be taken away from them by listeners.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority, which regulates radio broadcasting, says it received complaints from around the world and is considering whether it should launch an investigation
Separately, Prince William on Sunday pulled out of attending the British Military Tournament, billed as “the largest display of military theatre in the world”, citing Kate’s illness.
The Duchess has been resting and has not been seen in public since leaving the hospital.
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