Radio station 2DAY FM has asked the Federal Court to stop the media watchdog’s investigation into the infamous royal prank call as it fights for its broadcast license.
The Sydney broadcaster’s move comes after the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) told 2Day FM on Tuesday it was investigating whether it breached the Surveillance Devices Act 2007 by broadcasting the recording of the phone call.
“Today FM considers that the ACMA has no power to make such a finding,” Southern Cross Austereo said in a statement.
“The ACMA has no power to investigate whether the recording of a telephone call breaches State or Federal laws and the agencies which do have that power have not conducted an investigation or sought any information from Today FM.
“Today FM also considers that the recording of the prank call did not breach any law.”
Lawyers, talking to B&T in December last year, said the station may have committed a criminal offence with the potential breach of the NSW Surveillance Devices Act and NSW Listening Devices Act.
Justine Munsie of law firm Addisons said it was a “possibility” that criminal proceedings would be brought against the station and the DJs involved given the fact media organisations have been prosecuted for similar acts in the past.
“The criminal offence is whether they should have been recording a telephone conversation with a person without their consent in the first place,” Munise said.
Munise said a potential loophole may arise because the nurses were overseas, “but the relevant recording is being done in NSW so that could be problematic”.
For more on the legality of the prank call, in which details about the health of the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge were revealed, click here.
The ACMA said it plans to contest Today FM’s application to the Federal Court. It is investigating whether the condition that a broadcaster “must not use its broadcasting service in the commission of an offence” had been breached.
If the ACMA’s investigation is given the green light to proceed and it is found an offence occurred 2Day FM could lose its broadcasting licence.
The station's court action suggests it is seriously concerned it could lose its license.