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Geopolitics

Australian DJs Speak Out After Infamous Royal Hoax

SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW, NINE NETWORK (Australia)

Worldcrunch

SYDNEY - The two Australian radio DJs who conducted the controversial prank call to the hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge was staying, have broken their silence for the first time since the death of nurse Jacintha Saldanha on Friday.

Radio DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian gave interviews to two Australian current affairs programs on Monday about their distress upon hearing the news that Saldanha had killed herself.

Saldhanha was found dead in a residence near King Edward VII Hospital in London, where she worked, on Friday. She is suspected to have committed suicide after the media onslaught following the radio hoax. The two Australian DJs pretended to be members of the Royal Family in order to obtain information about Kate Middleton"s hospital stay.

Speaking to Australia's Nine Network, Greig said, "There's not a minute that goes by that I don't think about what that family of nurse Jacintha Saldanha is going through and the thought that we may have contributed to it is gut-wrenching."

"Our deepest sympathies go out to the family," said Michael Christian. "We had the idea for a simple harmless call. A call that would go for 30 seconds that we thought we would be hung up on," said Christian.

Both Greig and Christan stressed that they could not have possibly foreseen the circumstances of the prank call: "At every single point it was innocent on our behalf. It was something that was funny and light-hearted and a tragic turn of events that I don't think we could have predicted," said Christian.

Producers of the 2Day FM radio network have been denounced for having aired the pre-recorded prank call without clearing permission with staff at King Edward VII Hospital or "revealing" that it had been a prank.

However, Rhys Holleran, CEO of Southern Cross Austereo that owns 2Day FM, assured reporters that the company had attempted to contact the London hospital several times before broadcasting the segment.

Very difficult not to feel for the Australian DJs having seen that interview.Idiotic prank but they're clearly devastated with consequences.

— Dan Wootton (@danwootton) December 10, 2012

Australian DJs at the heart of #duchess hoax now being given celebrity status; call it cynical, but appears they're milking the limelight.

— Vinny Person (@OhVinoir) December 10, 2012

I do not feel sorry at all for the Australian DJs, they should know boundaries and what is right and wrong.

— Natalie Isabella (@nataliedewar) December 10, 2012

The Sydney Morning Herald reports on Monday that 2Day FM has suspended indefinitely both Greig and Christian, and put in place a company-wide suspension of prank calls.

The news follows the suspension of all advertising on the radio station; a decision that will cost Southern Cross Austereo an estimated $180,000 AUD ($189,000) each day, reports Australia's Financial Review.

Shares in Southern Cross Austereo fell 7.7% in early trading on the stock market Monday.

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