DETROIT (Talk Radio 1270/AP) Criminal charges are being considered against the Australian DJs who called a British hospital treating Princess Kate Middleton and jokingly posed as the Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles, asked about her condition, and ended up getting a detailed condition update from her nurse.
The nurse committed suicide — And it brings up the question, when does a radio prank go too far?
“My heart goes out to the family of this nurse, what a horrible situation,” said Buck Head, co-host of the Buck and Coop show on 98.7 AMP Radio, weighing in on the Charlie Langton morning show on 1270 Talk Radio.
Buck Head said he no longer does prank calls for entertainment, adding FCC rules are stronger than those in Europe, so that kind of unidentified call to a hospital wouldn’t be allowed here anyway. “I can’t call a nurse at a hospital and put her on the air without her permission,” Buck Head said.
He added: “In America, you would be fired immediately.”
Australian DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian tearfully apologized Monday for their joke, saying it ended up going too far.
Southern Cross Austereo, the parent company of the station in question, released a statement on Monday saying Greig and Christian’s show had been terminated and that there would be a company-wide suspension of prank calls. The DJs remain suspended.
“It’s a shocking turn of events,” said Greig. “If we had any idea that something like this could be even possible to happen – we couldn’t see this happening. It was meant to be a prank call.”
The DJs said that when the idea for the call came up in a team meeting, no one expected that they would actually be put through to the duchess’ ward.
“We just assumed we’d get cut off at every single point and that’d be it,” Christian said.
“The joke 100 percent was on us,” he said. “The idea was never, ‘Let’s call up and get through to Kate,’ or ‘Let’s speak to a nurse.’ The joke was our accents are horrible, they don’t sound anything like who they’re intended to be.”
Langton added American laws that protect patient confidentiality would have nipped that prank in the bud.
Even if the call was legal overseas, Buck Head predicted the Australian DJs are “gone.” “There would be riots if they kept their job … There’s no way, I definitely think they’re gone,” he said.
(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)