The Australian media watchdog is considering fast tracking an inquiry into Sydney radio station 2Day FM over its prank call to the London hospital caring for the Duchess of Cambridge last week.
Federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy told reporters in Sydney on Monday that the Australian Communications and Media Authority had taken the rare step of talking directly to 2Day FM to work out if an inquiry is needed into the call which preceded the death of a British nurse.
Usually, Australian consumers make complaints first to the media outlet concerned. If the complaint is unresolved, then ACMA becomes involved.
“The ACMA is talking to 2Day FM about the facts and issues surrounding the prank call,” Senator Conroy said.
”There is a provision for them to take action directly themselves … Hopefully we’ll hear from them shortly.”
On Sunday, NSW Police said they had been contacted by London Metropolitan Police about the prank, but there had been no specific request for information.
ACMA had earlier confirmed the volume of complaints matched the outcry over broadcaster Alan Jones saying the Prime Minister’s father had died of shame and Kyle Sandilands’s description of a female journalist as a ”fat slag.”
Senator Conroy noted that ACMA was an independent regulator, ”it’s not for me to tell them what to do,” but added that it was a ”very tragic set of circumstances”.
ACMA has the power to negotiate penalties with broadcasters (for example, when 2GB offered to Mr Jones have fact-checking training after he made false claims about climate change), impose licence conditions (2Day already has two; both for the Kyle and Jackie O show), or to suspend or revoke licences. The latter has never been done in Australia.
The chairman of Southern Cross Austereo has written to the London hospital that received 2Day FM’s notorious prank phone call to reassure them that immediate action would be taken over the incident.
Austereo suspended all advertising on 2Day FM on Saturday in response to an advertiser boycott after the suspected suicide of nurse Jacintha Saldanha, 46, who was taken in by the prank call.
Ad sales revenue was already under pressure, slumping 10 per cent in the three months to the end of September.
On Monday, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott told reporters in Sydney that the dust should be allowed to settled on the death of Ms Saldanha before there was debate on media regulation.
”This is a terrible tragedy, it’s a terrible tragedy for all involved. It was a prank that went horribly wrong. I think all we can do it mourn and grieve for everyone involved.”
With Ben Butler, Harriet Alexander, Julia MedewSupport is available for anyone who may be distressed by calling Lifeline 131 114, Mensline 1300 789 978, Kids Helpline 1800 551 800.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.