The hypocrisy of the British press over 2DayFM
IT may have begun as a harmless prank, but when British nurse Jacintha Saldinha took her own life after answering a hoax call from the 2DayFM DJs it sparked worldwide debate on such calls and the privacy and rights of those inadvertently caught up. Britain already has some of the toughest laws in the land after a number of embarrassing gaffes and MARTIN CAMPBELL one of the country’s chief architects for their laws tells European Correspondent CHARLES MIRANDA Britain’s media has some hard questions to answer but so too it’s about time Australia gets its house in order.
“QUITE clearly if the radio prank did not breach broadcasting laws in Australia it should have done. It’s actually as simple as that.
It was certainly a breach of broadcast laws of the regulator Ofcom here in the UK simply because for all prank calls these days you do need the permission of those people involved if there is no public interest defence and there is no public defence on this one. So I would have thought that it should be in breach of laws. They didn’t look at what they were doing.
I know it sounds very spoil sport but I helped write the code in the UK that actually demanded written permission is required from people if it is to result in some distress or public ridicule. This clearly falls under that bracket. That needs to be prevented, and if the Australian laws don’t prevent this they need to be changed fairly quickly.
The radio even in this multi-media age is actually a very forceful medium because you know people are very loyal to radio, people believe in radio, radio is a very strong medium and if you allow people to use the microphone as a weapon then radio as a medium is finished because that is not what radio is.
People need to trust radio. It doesn’t mean you can’t have fun but the fact of the matter is they never would have got permission to broadcast this, quite clearly they wouldn’t. I don’t care what anyone says, they would not have been given permission to broadcast this and therefore it shouldn’t have been broadcast.
It doesn’t matter how funny they thought it would have been, if they didn’t get permission it shouldn’t have been broadcast and that’s that.
I’m quite convinced without that overhyping there wouldn’t have been a problem. You’ve got Prince Charles wandering around joking about the prank before news (of the death) broke because that was the only way they could have dealt with it. It’s happened then it’s gone, just leave it. It’s a couple of idiots having a laugh. That was clearly Prince Charles’ view.
What happened in the UK was it got played over and over again and a lot of people (UK media) are now being pious having a go at 2Day FM but it was on their websites for days.
And they knew quite clearly there was no permission to broadcast it but they were happy to put it on the web and that is I think a very dangerous area that the mainstream media in the UK is entering into. Pushing people to the internet to see things they that wouldn’t be able to print or broadcast themselves, without taking responsibility for it. That is a real problem.
Everyone knows what the story was but each newspaper wants to make it a bigger story and a nastier story and so a lot of the tabloids here were trying to make out that personal and confidential information about the Duchess of Cambridge was spilling out everywhere as a result of this prank and clearly it wasn’t.
The hospital said it wasn’t.
That would make the people involved think: ‘what? not only have I been made a fool off, I eventually breached all the security of the royal family’. And that seems to not be true as far as the hospital is concerned.
So when you play fast and loose with the facts like this and just pushing it through the internet without taking responsibility for the content is certainly something that needs to be looked at.
And of course the Leveson inquiry (into ethics and culture of newspapers) hardly touched on the Internet at all and I think it shows political naivety in the UK about newspapers and the role of newspapers these days and the power of newspapers.
The Daily Mirror for example doesn’t make or break a government. It might sway a few people’s views but not the 1960s and ‘70s power that it used to be. The newspaper now had a different role. Its not just about news, it’s about comment, it’s about giving people what they want to see and hear so in a way I think this prank call encapsulates an awful lot of what’s happening to the media.”
- as told to Charles Miranda in London
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