RELATED:Austereo reply to hospital rebuke
2Day FM radio hosts Mel Greig and Michael Christian are “pretty shattered people” according to Channel Nine’sA Current Affairhost Tracy Grimshaw who has prerecorded an interview with the pair to go to air tonight.
Grimshaw toldFairfax Mediathis afternoon that the prerecorded interview was “very intense” with a lot of people in the room including radio station staff and supporters.
The pair, who have been facing global condemnation after the death of a British nurse targeted in a prank phone call, broke their silence on Monday afternoon in a pair of interviews with Grimshaw and Seven’s Clare Brady fromToday Tonight.
Grimshaw said she felt sympathy for the pair.
“They’re at a certain point on the food chain. There are other people who made the decision to put it to air, it wasn’t live to air, there was a decision made after that prank call was recorded to put it to air, and virtually all the focus has been on them,” Ms Grimshaw said.
“So I have some sympathy for them in that regard.”
Grimshaw said she was mindful that anyone in their situation would be fragile and the interview was a chance for the hosts to say what they wanted to say.
“What has happened with this poor nurse in England is not going to be helped by bullying these two people into some sort of breakdown. I was very mindful that anyone in their situation would be fragile, and very mindful of not becoming part of the problem.
“We talked about the process of the prank call, how it came about, what happens after you record something like that, where are the checks and balances, what is the network’s policy on prank calls, where do you draw the line.
“We talked about their future and we talked about whether prank calls should be banned.”
Immediately after Grimshaw’s interview concluded, Nine’s official Twitter account announced: “First interview with the #2dayfm djs just recorded with @TracyGrimshaw. It’s raw & emotional. The full uncut interview at 6.30 tonight #aca9.”
After the interview, Brady and a crew fromToday Tonightmoved in to the studio, to again give the DJs their chance to speak.
Grimshaw sent a message from her Twitter account saying: “Let me say clearly that our interview with the 2Day FM hosts for tonight’sA Current Affairwas NOT paid for. Neither asked nor offered.”
‘A deeply tragic, unforeseen circumstance’
The boss of 2Day FM said on Monday morning that staff from the station had tried at least five times to contact those involved in the prank call.
The station, along with Christian and Greig, are under fire after nurse Jacintha Saldanha died in an apparent suicide after the call gained worldwide notoriety.
The pair had claimed to be Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles, and asked after the condition of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, who was in the King Edward VII hospital suffering from an acute form of morning sickness.
Mrs Saldanha put the call through to the London hospital ward of the recovering Duchess of Cambridge.
Rhys Holleran, chief executive of 2Day FM’s parent company Austereo, reiterated on Monday that what had occurred was “a deeply tragic, unforseen circumstance” but that he was satisfied that the appropriate checks were conducted before the pre-recorded segment was broadcast.
“It is absolutely true to say that we actually did attempt to contact those people on multiple occasions. We rang them up to discuss what we had recorded. We attempted to contact them on no less than five occasions. We did want to speak to them about it,” he told Melbourne radio station 3AW.
Later, he said: “The day prior [to Mrs Saldahna’s death], people took it as a harmless prank in good humour.”
Greig and Christian’s program has been suspended and advertising on the station has been suspended until Wednesday. The station has not yet said when, or if, the presenters will return to the airwaves.
All Austereo staff were called to a meeting on Monday at 9am; employees have been gagged from speaking publicly without permission.
Mr Holleran’s comments come as online vigilante group Anonymous is believed to have threatened the broadcaster in light of Mrs Saldanha’s death.
Using a new account on YouTube with the group’s branding, a person wearing a mask similar to that used by Anonymous members said 2Day FM was “directly responsible” for Mrs Saldanha’s death.
The video, uploaded from an account named An-onym Oz, purports to be from Anonymous but contains a spelling error in its opening titles. ‘‘Hello citizens of the world, we are Anonyomous,’’ it reads.
“We have listened to your excuses. We have heard the word ’prank’ a million times,” the person in the video says, in a digitally altered voice.
“We have studied the facts and found you guilty of murder. You have placed yourself in an untenable position. You have placed your advertisers at risk – their databases, their websites, their online advertising.
“We are Anonymous and hereby demand you terminate the contracts of Mel Greig and Michael Christian. We will not listen to any more excuses. We will not let you escape your responsibility. You have a funeral to pay for. We are Anonymous. We are legion. We are amongst you. Expect us. This is not a prank call; this is no laughing matter. This is your one and only chance to make amends. You have one week to do so.”
In Australia, New South Wales police are now helping Scotland Yard with its investigation into Mrs Saldanha’s death.
Mr Holleran said on Monday that he had not spoken to police “at this point in time”.
He said he did not believe any Australian Communications and Media Authority codes governing radio broadcasts had been breached or that the station’s licence was in jeopardy.
He said the company was happy to discuss the issue with any investigators.
Mel Greig and Michael Christian.
“I’m sure that in the time ahead, there will be questions, and we’re happy to participate in that process, of course we are,” Mr Holleran said.
“We have said we won’t be running that style of call until we do [investigate] … this isn’t a witch-hunt and I don’t intend for it to be that way.
“If it’s appropriate to make changes, we will make changes, make no mistake about that.”
He would not comment on how much the fallout was costing the station financially and rejected suggestions of cultural problems at the station in light of repeated scandals, largely ignited by host Kyle Sandilands.
* Support is available for anyone who may be distressed by calling Lifeline 131 114, Mensline 1300 789 978, Kids Helpline 1800 551 800.