Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) is facing a huge crisis after the nurse who fielded a prank call from a pair of 2DayFM presenters posing as the Queen apparently took her own life.
Presenters Mel Greig and Michael Christian (MC) have been taken off air until further notice following the death of nurse Jacintha Saidanha, who transferred the call to a colleague who then revealed personal details of the Duchess of Cambridge’s pregnancy when the pair called her last week.
Yesterday the mother-of-two was found dead at her nurses' home yards from the luxurious King Edward VII Hospital in London, where Kate is being treated for severe morning sickness after announcing her pregnancy.
The station, no stranger to controversy, now faces perhaps its largest public relations disaster to date, with thousands of comments accusing the station of negligence on social networks Twitter and Facebook. Both presenters have suspended their Twitter accounts.
Some are already calling for advertiser boycotts of the station, after similar action against 2DayFM previously, and most recently against 2GBs Alan Jones, and a Change.org petition calling for the sacking of the presenters has already attracted nearly 4,000 signatures.
Regulator the Australian Communications and Media Authority has said it will not comment at the moment on the news, but will "engage with the licensee" around the prank call, which SC says was vetted by lawyers before being aired.
In a statement today the company said: “SCA and 2Day FM are deeply saddened by the tragic news of the death of nurse Jacintha Saldanha from King Edward VII’s Hospital and we extend our deepest sympathies to her family and all that have been affected by this situation around the world.
“Chief Executive Officer Rhys Holleran has spoken with the presenters, they are both deeply shocked and at this time we have agreed that they not comment about the circumstances. SCA and the hosts have decided that they will not return to their radio show until further notice out of respect for what can only be described as a tragedy.”
Some are calling for criminal charges against the pair, who violated laws by impersonating someone in order to get information.
SCA has previously felt backlash after Kyle Sandilands and co-host Jackie O caused outrage, most recently by calling a News Limited journalist a “piece of shit” after an unfavourable review of a Sandilands show.
Following that ACMA posed licence conditions on the station.