Australian DJs break silence over UK royal prank tragedy

CANBERRA Mon Dec 10, 2012 1:49pm IST

2day FM radio hosts Mel Greig (L) and Michael Christian, pose in Sydney in this picture obtained by Reuters on December 8, 2012. REUTERS/Southern Cross Austereo/Handout

2day FM radio hosts Mel Greig (L) and Michael Christian, pose in Sydney in this picture obtained by Reuters on December 8, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Southern Cross Austereo/Handout

Related Topics

Stocks

   

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Two Australian radio announcers who made a prank call to a British hospital treating Prince William's pregnant wife Kate broke a three-day silence on Monday to speak of their distress at the apparent suicide of the nurse who took their call.

The 2DayFM Sydney-based announcers, Mel Greig and Michael Christian, said the tragedy had left them "shattered, gutted, heartbroken".

Greig and fellow presenter and prank mastermind Christian have been in hiding since nurse Jacintha Saldanha's death and the subsequent social media outrage at their prank.

Greig told Australian television her first thought when told of Saldanha's death was for her family.

"Unfortunately I remember that moment very well, because I haven't stopped thinking about it since it happened," she said, amid tears and her voice quavering with emotion. "I remember my first question was 'was she a mother?'."

"I've wanted to just reach out to them and just give them a big hug and say sorry. I hope they're okay, I really do. I hope they get through this," said a black-clad Greig when asked about mother of two Saldanha's children, left grieving their mother's death with their father Ben Barboza.

Saldanha, 46, was found dead in staff accommodation near London's King Edward VII hospital on Friday after putting the hoax call through to a colleague who unwittingly disclosed details of Kate's morning sickness to 2DayFM's presenters.

A recording of the call, broadcast repeatedly by the station, rapidly became an internet hit and was reprinted as a transcript in many newspapers.

But news of Saldanha's death sparked the Internet firestorm, with vitriolic comments towards the DJs on Facebook and Twitter.

Christian said his only wish was that Saldanha's grief-stricken family received proper support.

"I hope that they get the love, the support, the care that they need, you know," said Christian, who like Greig struggled to talk about the tragedy.

Both Greig, 30, and Christian were relatively new to the station, with Greig joining in March and Christian having been in the job only a few days before the prank call after a career in regional radio.

Greig said she did not think their prank would work.

"We thought a hundred people before us would've tried it. We thought it was such a silly idea and the accents were terrible and not for a second did we expect to speak to Kate, let alone have a conversation with anyone at the hospital. We wanted to be hung up on," she said.

Christian drew headlines only two weeks before the royal prank call by angering fellow passengers with a harmonica playing stunt aboard pop star Rihanna's private jet.

The 2Day parent company Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) (SXL.AX) has received more than 1,000 complaints from Australians over the actions of the popular presenters, who have both been taken off air during an broadcasting watchdog investigation.

Shares in SCA fell 5 percent on Monday after two major Australian companies pulled their advertising with the radio station in protest and other advertising was suspended.

The station said it had tried to contact hospital staff five times over the recordings.

"It is absolutely true to say that we actually did attempt to contact those people on multiple occasions," said SCA chief executive Rhys Holleran.

"No one could have reasonably foreseen what has happened. I can only say the prank call is not unusual around the world," he said.

The fallout from the radio stunt has brought back memories in Britain of the death of William's mother Diana in a Paris car crash in 1997 and threatens to cast a pall over the birth of his and Kate's first child.

Australia's Communications Minister Stephen Conroy sought to deflect calls for more media regulation, telling journalists that a looming investigation by Australia's independent regulator should be allowed to happen without political interference. (Reporting by Rob Taylor; Editing by Michael Perry)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Korean Boat Tragedy

Family members of a missing passenger onboard the South Korean ferry Sewol which capsized on Wednesday, look at the sea as they wait for news from a rescue team, at a port in Jindo April 19, 2014. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Sunken Korea ferry relatives give DNA swabs to help identify dead

Relatives of some of the more than 200 children missing in a sunken South Korean ferry offered DNA swabs on Saturday to help identify the dead as a rescue turned into a mission to recover the vessel and the bodies of those on board.  Full Article 

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Everest Tragedy

Everest Tragedy

Death toll climbs in worst tragedy on Everest  Full Article 

Missing Plane

Missing Plane

Current underwater search for Malaysia plane could end within a week  Full Article 

Ukraine Crisis

Ukraine Crisis

Putin welcomes new NATO head, says better ties with West possible  Full Article 

Japan Military

Japan Military

Japan expands army footprint for first time in 40 years, risks angering China  Full Article 

Journalists Released

Journalists Released

Kidnapped French journalists found on Turkey's Syrian border   Full Article 

Papal Message

Papal Message

Pope Good Friday service underscores plight of the suffering.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage