London: The two DJs at the centre of the prank call to the hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge was staying have spoken for the first time since the tragic death of nurse Jacintha Saldana.
Teary and upset, Mel Greig and Michael Christian told of their distress upon hearing about Saldanha’s death.
“[It was] the worst phone call I’ve ever had in my life,” Greig told the Nine network’s A Current Affair programme.
“I’ve thought about this a million times in my head and have wanted to reach out to them [the family of Saldanha] and just give them a big hug. I hope they’re OK, I really do,” said Greig.
“I just hope that they get the love, the support and care that they need,” said Christian.
The two DJs spoke to the media for the first time since they went into hiding on Saturday. They gave interviews to Channel Nine and Channel 7’s main evening current affairs programmes, to be aired on Monday evening.
The host of the Nine programme, Tracey Grimshaw, earlier tweeted that the interview had not been paid for. It was “neither asked nor offered”, she said.
Grimshaw told Fairfax Media the prerecorded interview was “very intense” with a lot of people in the room including radio station staff and supporters. She said she felt sympathy for the DJs.
“They’re at a certain point on the food chain. There are other people who made the decision to put it to air. It wasn’t live-to-air. There was a decision made after that prank call was recorded to put it to air, and virtually all the focus has been on them,” Grimshaw said.
“We talked about the process of the prank call, how it came about, what happens after you record something like that, where are the checks and balances, what is the network’s policy on prank calls, where do you draw the line,” she added.
“We talked about their future and we talked about whether prank calls should be banned.”
Channel 7’s Today Tonight programme, which will also air an interview on Monday night with the two DJs, tweeted: “On #TodayTonight at 6:30... #2DayFM pranksters tell all on the Royal hoax that went horribly wrong how their lives have changed forever.”
Rhys Holleran, CEO of Southern Cross Austereo, which owns 2Day FM, said the station attempted to contact King Edward VII hospital “no less than five times” before broadcasting the pre-recorded material.
“It is absolutely true to say that we actually did attempt to contact those people on multiple occasions,” Holleran said. “We rang them to discuss what we had recorded,” he said, adding that this was done before the recorded prank went to air.
“Absolutely. We attempted to contact them on no less than five occasions. We wanted to speak to them about it,” he said.
Holleran reiterated that he was “deeply saddened” by the tragic events that have unfolded since the call but again said no one could have reasonably foreseen the circumstances. He said the station was happy to co-operate with any investigation into the incident.
The industry-drawn-up Commercial Radio Codes of Practice and Guidelines state that a station must not broadcast the words of an identifiable person unless they have been informed in advance that the recording may go to air. If someone is unaware they are being recorded, the interviewee must grant consent for it to be played, prior to anything being broadcast.
Guardian News and Media 2012