Arguing that the prank call was supposed to be harmless, Southern Cross Austereo says, 'No one has looked at the hospital; it is quite easy to blame us.'
Amidst backlashes over the shocking death of Kate Middleton's nurse after she took a prank call from 2Day FM's hosts, Southern Cross Austereo which owns the radio station points its finger at the King Edward VII Hospital. Sandy Kaye, a spokesperson for Austereo, believes the hospital is responsible for Jacintha Saldanha's death.
While the hospital insisted no punishment was given to Jacintha who transferred the hoax call to Kate's ward and led DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian to speak to another nurse who later gave full update on the pregnant Duchess, the radio station urges the hospital to "do its homework" before blaming someone else.
The representative says in a statement, "No one has looked at the hospital; it is quite easy to blame us. The hospital were very quick to get their statement out. It is much sexier to attack an Australian radio network without having done your homework to find out how much responsibility we actually bear."
"I don't want to shift the blame. It [the prank call] is much sexier than the issue of depression or talking about what led someone to a suicide ... The Australian industry seems to sit quite fairly behind us. It was only supposed to be a harmless prank."
Mel and Michael pretended to be Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles when making the call to the hospital. The conversation with the hospital staff was later broadcast on air, and the two Australian presenters bragged about it on their social media, which were quickly shut down after news broke out that one of the nurses was found dead in a reported suicide.
Lord Glenarthur, the chairman of the hospital, condemned the hoax call as "extremely foolish" and suggested that the "ill-considered actions" led to the "humiliation" of Jacintha and the other nurse. "I appreciate that you cannot undo the damage which has been done but I would urge you to take steps to ensure that such an incident could never be repeated," he wrote to the radio station.
Max Moore-Wilton, the chief of the company, replied, "I can assure you we are taking immediate action and reviewing the broadcast and processes involved." While expressing their condolence, the executive argued that the outcome of the prank call was "unforeseeable." The hosts were suspended until further notice.
The radio station itself has history of backfiring stunts. One of their presenters once came under fire for making a 14-year-old girl confess in a similar on-air prank involving her own mother that she was raped when she was 12. The same DJ was also reprimanded for calling a female journalist a "fat sl*g" in response to her report on the low ratings of his radio show.