Australian radio network dumps royal hoax show
AFP Tuesday, January 29, 2013, 12:38 am TWN
SYDNEY -- An Australian radio show at the centre of a hoax call controversy involving Britain's Prince William and his pregnant wife Catherine has been taken off air permanently, the network said Monday.
Two DJs were sidelined by the Austereo network after making the prank call to the London hospital treating the duchess of Cambridge, which resulted in details of her recovery from morning sickness being revealed on air.
The Indian-born nurse who transferred the call to Kate Middleton's ward, Jacintha Saldanha, was found dead three days later, triggering a massive backlash against Austereo and hosts Mel Greig and Michael Christian.
The pair received death threats over the call, in which they posed as Queen Elizabeth II and William's father Prince Charles.
They were taken off air and their show "Hot 30" was suspended. Austereo confirmed that it was launching a new program called "The Bump" later Monday to take its place permanently.
But an Austereo spokeswoman told AFP: "Mel and MC are still employed and on leave."
Austereo chief executive Rhys Holleran said the network remained in contact with the two hosts.
"We look forward to Mel and MC returning to work when the time is right, in roles that make full use of their talents," he said.
"We will discuss future roles with them when they are ready."
Austereo suspended prank calls by its stations and pledged at least AU$500,000 (US$520,000) to help Saldanha's grieving family. Greig and Christian also made a tearful televised apology.
An inquest heard that Saldanha was found hanged in staff accommodation at the private King Edward VII's Hospital in central London and there were no suspicious circumstances over her death. She also had marks on her wrist.
Saldanha left three notes, one of which reportedly criticized colleagues over her treatment at the hospital.
Australia's media watchdog has opened an investigation into the call. Scotland Yard also investigated the affair but according to Australian police, Greig and Christian are unlikely to face prosecution.
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