Regulator report finds 2DayFM royal baby prank was 'highly demeaning and exploitative'

The Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William. Photo: Fred Duval/Getty Images.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has released its report into the 2DayFM radio royal baby prank, which found the station breached two clauses in the Commercial Radio Australia Codes of Practice.

In December 2012, presenters Mel Grieg and Michael Christian rang London’s King Edward VII Hospital, where the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge was a patient, posing as the Queen and Prince Charles, and a ward nurse unwittingly revealed details.

The nurse who answered the phone, Jacintha Saldanha, and put it through to the ward, committed suicide two days later, and as international concern grew, a number of inquiries into the prank were launched.

ACMA’s findings have been the subject of legal battles in recent months, going all the way to the High Court, which unanimously ruled for ACMA to uphold the broadcasting authority’s original findings after the radio station successfully appealed the ruling in the Federal Court.

The ACMA’s investigation found 2DayFM breached clause 6.1 of the Code, “which prohibits the broadcast of statements by identifiable persons without their consent”; and clause 9.1, “which prohibits participants in live-hosted entertainment programs from being treated in a highly demeaning or highly exploitative manner”.

The radio station was also found to have breached one of its licence conditions under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (the Act), which prohibits the use of a broadcasting service in the commission of an offence. That ruling relates to the broadcast of a private conversation without the consent of the parties involved, which is an offence under the NSW Surveillance Devices Act 2007.

2DayFM did have some wins in the ACMA investigation, which found that the station did not breach the Code’s decency and privacy obligations; nor did it contravene a specific condition about “standards of decency” imposed following a series of stunts on the Kyle & Jackie O Breakfast Show.

However, ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said that Southern Cross Media, 2DayFM’s owners, had “breached an important community safeguard” by broadcasting a private conversation without consent.

ACMA will now move formally to consider what sanctions should apply.

The release of the report 17 months after the incident comes just days before the Duchess of Cambridge returns to the hospital for the birth of her second child.

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