Distaste for royal-prank call dominated year's complaints to regulator

The communications regulator received more complaints about 2Day FM's royal-baby prank call than all other broadcasting complaints put together last financial year.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority received 2680 complaints about the prank call.

It became international news after the nurse who answered the call, Jacintha Saldanha, took her own life.

Complaints about the prank call eclipsed the other 2178 complaints the ACMA received about other broadcasters during the year.

The regulator did not include the 2Day FM complaints in its totals for 2012-13, but noted the high number in a footnote.

On December 4, 2012 2Day FM presenters Mel Greig and Mike Christian impersonated the Queen and Prince of Wales in a call to King Edward VII's Hospital in London to enquire about the Duchess of Cambridge, who was being treated for morning sickness.

They were put through to the Duchess' ward by nurse Jacintha Saldanha, who took her own life after the hoax was widely publicised in the British media.

After the fallout, one of the presenters involved, Mel Greig, did not return to work and sued 2Day FM for failing to provide a safe working environment.

The authority has not revealed how many complaints were received on the day of the prank call or how many were received in following weeks as the call's impact became clearer.

The ACMA started investigating on December 13, 2012. However, after receiving the preliminary report 2Day FM, owned by listed media company Southern Cross Austero, launched legal action in the Federal Court to have ACMA permanently restrained from finding it breached its broadcasting licence conditions.

A full bench of the Federal Court is due to hear 2Day's appeal in March next year.

Ms Greig reached a settlement with Southern Cross Austero at the beginning of December after lodging a claim with Fair Work Australia in July. Ms Greig is to leave the station at the end of the year.

From the 2178 complaints it received in 2012-13 about broadcasters, the ACMA conducted 212 investigations.

Most of these investigations were into commercial television networks with 100 investigations finding 47 breaches of the Broadcasting Services Act. There were 47 investigations into the ABC, which found six breaches, and 23 investigations into commercial radio stations, which also found six breaches.

In total there were 67 breaches of the Act, the smallest number for five years.

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