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Fallout from radio station's royal prank

Dec. 8, 2012 at 10:36 AM   |   Comments

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SYDNEY, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- A supermarket chain canceled its advertising Saturday on an Australian radio station involved in a prank on a London hospital.

The Sydney radio station 2Day FM's website continued to plug the prank hours after news of Jacintha Saldanha's death had flashed across the world, The Daily Telegraph of London reported.

The Coles chain announced its decision on its Facebook page after news spread that a nurse who accepted a call from two DJs was dead in an apparent suicide, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. The DJs pretended to be Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles and were given information on the condition of Charles' daughter-in-law, the former Kate Middleton.

"We understand Australians are clearly angry and upset by what appear to be tragic consequences of the 2Day FM hospital prank," the Coles group said in its statement. "We have wanted to let you know we have instructed 2Day FM to remove all Coles group advertising from the station as soon as possible."

The Sydney radio station appeared to be facing a huge backlash. The Herald said 10,000 comments appeared on 2Day FM's Facebook page and thousands of comments were on Twitter.

"People are calling for the Australian DJs to be sacked. Sacked?! I'd like to see involuntary manslaughter charges against them," one man, Dave Turner, tweeted.

The head of Southern Cross Austereo, which owns 2Day FM, said the two DJs, Mel Greig and Michael Christian, would be off the air until further notice.

Saldanha, who was working an overnight shift at King Edward VII Hospital when the prank call was made, was found unconscious Friday morning in a staff hostel. She answered the phone because no receptionist was on duty and put it through to a nurse caring for the duchess of Cambridge, who was hospitalized because of acute morning sickness.

News of the death broke in the middle of the night in Australia. The Telegraph said 2Day FM, apparently on autopilot, kept the phone call live.

Australian regulators would not comment on possible sanctions. The station got into trouble in May after a presenter called a reporter a "fat slag" on the air.

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