Radio hoaxes in question
Sun, 09 Dec 2012 6:03p.m.
By Rachel Tiffen
The future of the radio prank is under threat, following the suicide of a nurse believed to have put a hoax phone call through to the hospital ward where the Duchess of Cambridge was suffering from morning sickness.
British media are slamming the Aussie hosts behind the stunt, and now New Zealand radio networks are reviewing policies.
Forty-six-year-old Jacintha Saldanha is believed to have transferred a hoax radio call to the Duchess of Cambridge's ward.
In a letter to today, the hospital condemned Aussie shock-jocks Mel Craig and Michael Christian for even considering it.
“The immediate consequences of these premeditated and ill-considered actions was the humiliation of two dedicated and caring nurses who were simply doing their job tending to their patients,” says hospital chairman Lord Glenarthur.
The long-term consequence, Lord Glenarthur wrote, was "frankly, tragic beyond words”. The nurse's family in India are understandably devastated.
“I'll really miss her a lot,” says her relative. “She was a good-natured sister-in-law. I can't forget her. She was so good. She was beautiful and she and her husband were great together.”
While the Aussie hosts have been forced off-air and offered counselling, the tragic fallout of their call has raised the question: when does a prank go too far?
Retired broadcaster Paul Holmes knows all too well, sacked over a hoax call to the Archbishop of Canterbury back in 1976.
“I was there in the glory days of the ‘70s and ‘80s of who you could reach, who you could get on air, but you'd never think for a minute you were going to cause someone the kind of distress that would lead them to take their life,” says Mr Holmes.
Mr Holmes says it was a major security breach by the hospital, and blame shouldn't lie squarely on the hosts.
“They went to air with the approval of the legals and the management. You can't vilify them.”
But perhaps more caution was needed.
“You've got to be real careful going near the royals, particularly when there's a baby involved who will one day be a king or queen.”
Despite numerous calls to Kiwi broadcasting personalities, Mr Holmes was the only one who agreed to or was allowed to talk to us. It seems radio bosses are nervous about any more bad publicity.
But The Radio Network, which runs the likes of ZM, Hauraki and Classic Hits, has admitted its editorial content will probably be tightened. Mediaworks, owner of The Rock, which does “Wind Up Your Wife Wednesday”, is reminding staff about protocols and consent processes.
It turns out even the Australian Prime Minster is a prankster.
“I'm confident in triple J’s prediction that the world is about to end,” jokes Julia Gillard, “whether the final blow comes from flesh-eating zombies, demonic hell beasts or from the total triumph of k-pop.”
But Prince William and his expecting wife have had enough of Australian pranksters. The royal mother-to-be is reportedly very upset by the nurse's death.
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10/12/2012 11:05:31 a.m.
It was probably the Royals carrying on that drove the poor woman to suicide. Rememeber the fuss over Kates rubbish boobs being photographed. What a drama about nothing - thats the Royals for you.
10/12/2012 8:48:46 a.m.
@ Chris, yes that is exactly what it is about, but it is not the dj's it is the radio bosses that want the money and pranks like this is what attracts listners, these prank calls have been happening on radio for years for the simple fact that they can be halarious which is why so many people tune in to listen to them. This was a fantastic prank that worked better than anyone thought it would and if it hadnt been for the actions of a selfish woman then it would have gone down in history as one of the greats! no one kills themselves for simply transfering a phone call thats just ridiculous, The first person to look at is the husband and how he was treating his wife and then the finger should be pointed at the media and english public that caused this to be a huge issue. People need to wake up and get over themselves, we have all played pranks and we have all been pranked and how many people do you know that have killed themselves over a prank? NONE!! because you would have to be a nut job to kill yourself over a prank. the people that are attacking the DJ's have obviously never had friends to pull pranks with and must have very sad lonely lives.
10/12/2012 8:11:02 a.m.
For all we know, the Duchess of Cambridge might have reacted all too harshly to the hospital's lack of security protocol. Demonising the DJs and questioning the prankster tradition is, however, the typical response one would expect from today's paranoid self-regulating media and society. Please also cease any slapstick/reality shows, hidden cameras, and jokes in general, as someone might well be offended by it.
10/12/2012 7:14:12 a.m.
Stop vilifying the DJ. What about the security process this hospital should have had in place to ensure no one other than approved people has access to the royals. It was said the the royals have a private line and this call should never have been forwarded. The fault lies with the hospital not the DJ
10/12/2012 2:14:23 a.m.
i am a british citizen. i find it very hard to believe that this one scenario caused this poor woman to take her life. there must have been more to the situation. to place blame on these 2 djs seems out of proportion, i am sure they were more shocked than anybody that they were able to go as far as they did. my heart goes out to her family, but lets not be a lynch mob
9/12/2012 9:56:27 p.m.
Every person has to be responsible for the consequences of their actions - the dj's, the lawyers who gave them the go-ahead and the producer who authorised the show. For the rest of their lives they will be haunted by the outcome of their actions...
9/12/2012 7:47:41 p.m.
I think there is a differnce between what Gillard did and the two Aussie shock jocks. Gillard is a known athiest and what she did was parody the end of the world predictors. The two dj's on the other hand were out to play a joke at somebody else's expense. I am aware that NZ Radio stations deploy a similar prankster style which quite frankly needs to stop completely along with other intrusive medai styles deployed by all media including TV.
9/12/2012 6:52:43 p.m.
well you two got your 5 mins of framehope you are both very happy & proud of youselfs shame on you both you care about noone but how much money you can bring in for your low radio station
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