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Royal prank tragedy: "The buck stops with the boss"

Posted by: Neil Mitchell | 10 December, 2012 - 8:32 AM
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NEIL MITCHELL: First this outrage around 2Day FM. The prank call to the hospital and the suicide of the nurse caught in it.

This is so sad for everybody but particularly the woman’s family.

But…. Let’s get this straight. What happened would not happen in talk radio.

It would not happen here, at the ABC, Alan Jones wouldn’t do it.

LISTEN BELOW: CEO of Southern Cross Austereo Rhys Holleran speaks with Neil Mitchell.

The problem here is that FM is effectively covered by different rules and operates in a different world. Or at least some of it does.

I have legal advice, open to argument I am sure, that 2-Day fm did not breach any radio guidelines. Certainly they believe that.

The codes of conduct are unequivocal on talk radio.

Code 6.1 says you cannot broadcast material unless the person recorded knows about it.

You can’t put somebody to air unless they know they are on air.

That is under the headline ‘Interviews and talkback programs’. So is a prank call an interview?

It certainly wasn’t a talk back program.

They are covered by the light entertainment section, Code 9, and you could drive a truck through that.

So they may be OK under radio law however I think they have problems under surveillance and recording devices law.

Which says you can record another person when you are part of their conversation but not replay it without approval from them.

But look there is a broader point here. These two presenters. They should not wear it all.

The focus is all on the two DJ’s Mel Greig & Michael Christian.

That I suspect is wrong. Yes...they did do something stupid. But who takes responsibility?

Normal process is that these things are pre-recorded and replayed.

So who approved it going to air? These two are very junior presenters.

There is no way they would have made the decision to put it to air

Was it a senior producer? Was it a program director? Imagine if they pre-recorded this?

It was a world scoop – ‘the ultimate prank’. They would have been be so delighted. They would be running around telling everybody

So who knew? Who approved it? And why are these two wearing all the blame?

The buck stops with the boss.

LISTEN: CEO of Southern Cross Austereo Rhys Holleran speaks with Neil Mitchell

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3AW Mornings with Neil Mitchell

Neil Mitchell Neil is one of Australia’s most experienced journalists with success in newspapers, radio and television. He was one of the youngest editors of a daily metropolitan newspaper, The Herald.


Blog comments Your Say

  • It was never funny, it was plain disrespectful to invade the royals privacy. It should never have gone to air without the permission of those involved. There should have been more 'royal security' to screen any calls. A lot of people are to blame here. Finally public pranks should never be allowed on innocent unsuspecting people, worse still someone you dont even know.

    margy Tuesday 11 December, 2012 - 1:55 PM
  • I keep hearing Rhys Holleran claim that 2DayFM tried to call the Hospital five times prior to the 'prank' being aired! Am I such a sceptic? Do I believe this? Can these 'attempts' be proved? Time for Telsta or whoever to come out and prove this statement. Freedom Of Information? Somehow we must be able to validate Mr Hollaran's claim! ...Can we believe this radio CEO? Can I ask for confirmation of these attempts, please Mr Holloran...knowing how you have in the past claimed to be a bit baffled by community standards of 'decency' I am not sure that you and I have the same 'code of ethics' when it comes to telling the truth! Evidence of your attempts to contact, please Sir. As well, "trying' to get through (however many times!) does not constitute "getting through and receiving permission". Keep spinning, Rhys..we are not fooled!

    Roz2911 Tuesday 11 December, 2012 - 12:27 PM
  • Rhys Holleran has been making excuses, avoiding truths, refusing to change the culture at 2day for far too long. This guy needs to go and the other management - has anyone asked Derek Bargwanna if he was involved - need to step up. I feel for these two presenters, they did what was expected of them, they worked in an environment that endorses exploitation, humiliation, bullying and so on.

    Rhys Holleran needs to man up and take it on the chin - he needs to go! And the other management involved need to be outed for their role. Spotlight should be on management who surely did not follow 'those processes.

    To say that this was unforseable is hardly accurate. You play with fire and eventually you or someone you are dealing with is going to get burnt.

    Kate Tuesday 11 December, 2012 - 10:12 AM
  • CEO and the two morons should be fired and everyone ought to boycott the station AND any and all companies that advertise on it until that happens.

    Robert Carreira Tuesday 11 December, 2012 - 4:12 AM
  • Its so obvious that Mr Holleran has been speaking to his lawyers. Everything he said on radio has loaded with legal-speak "nobody could have foreseen the circumstances", "couldn't reasonably think it foreseeable". Tally the number of times he uses the words "reasonably foreseeable". Mr Holleran is more concerned about legal liability than anything else. puke!

    law guy Monday 10 December, 2012 - 10:48 PM
  • Absolutely agree the fault lies with the station bosses who OKd this and the hospital for not having any protocols in place to deal with calls re Kates' condition and care. Or even the royals themselves for not having a PR person to deal with these sort of calls, no matter who they claimed to be.

    GIW Monday 10 December, 2012 - 7:49 PM

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