Australia’s broadcasting watchdog and 2Day FM have been locked in battle since the ‘royal hoax call’ incident.
In December 2012, radio presenters Mel Greig and Michael Christian impersonated the Queen and the Prince of Wales in a prank call to a London hospital where Kate Middleton was in receiving medical treatment for severe morning sickness. Jacintha Saldanha, the nurse who took the call, later committed suicide over the incident.
The findings of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) will now be argued in the country’s highest court, with the ACMA planning to defend its initial findings against the radio station and seeking that it should be upheld.
The ACMA’s findings include a breach of the NSW surveillance laws with the recording and airing of the hoax. In doing so Southern Cross Austereo (SCA), 2Day FM’s holding company, were in direct violation of the conditions specified in their broadcasting licence.
A prolonged legal battle in the Federal Court SCA sought to prohibit the ACMA from declaring that SCA breached the conditions of its broadcasting licence while the group is yet to be found guilty of criminal conduct.
While the Federal Court found that the ACMA held enough power to establish if 2Day FM had caused its holding company to breach their licence conditions with the broadcasting of the prank call.
ACMA has indicated that it will defend its findings in the High Court and should their case be successful the ACMA will have the authority to sanction 2Day FM with the possibility of suspending the station’s licence.
SCA said that the ACMA and High Court findings are of concern to the broadcasting industry as a whole.
In a SCA statement, CEO Rhys Holleran said: “All commercial radio and television broadcasters are very concerned that the Australian Communications and Media Authority decided several years ago to reverse its previous application of broadcasting law and to judge for itself the alleged criminal guilt of broadcasters rather than leaving that judgment to the courts based on proper evidence.”
“Southern Cross Austereo considers that the unanimous decision of the Full Court of the Federal Court is completely correct and will continue to argue its position in the High Court,” added Holleran.
Michael Christian has since the incident been named “next top jock” at a SCA awards ceremony while Mel Greig left the company’s employ saying she requested that the nurse’s voice be disguised to protect her but that her request fell on death ears.
IMAGES: Top – The Australian radio DJs who made the ‘royal hoax call’, Michael Christian and Mel Greig, when they appeared on A Current Affair in 2013 to speak about the incident. Middle – Jacintha Saldanha, the nurse who took the ‘royal hoax call’ and subsequently committed suicide.