Royal hoax call cost Australian radio network USD 2.9 mln

The Australian radio network behind the royal hoax call scandal in which an Indian-origin nurse committed suicide, said today that the prank resulted in losses for it worth nearly USD 3 million.

It all started with what was supposed to be a prank call to London's King Edward VII Hospital that was treating a pregnant Kate Middleton for acute morning sickness.

Jacintha Saldanha, 46, was the duty nurse when DJs Mel Grieg and Michael Christian, called the hospital pretending to be the Queen and Prince Charles, asking about the Duchess's condition.

She forwarded the call to another nurse, who divulged confidential medical information about Kate.

The prank was broadcast by 2Day FM within hours, and made headlines around the world.

Saldanha was found dead on December 7 last year in the nurses' quarters three days later, having hanged herself with a scarf.

The scandal resulted in a revenue hit of 2.2 million Australian dollars and 1.4 million Australian dollars in expenses in the six months to December 31, 2012, AAP news agency reported.

It did not give the overall impact on net profit but said there was a 0.4 cent decline in earnings per share, which works out at 2.8 million Australian dollars (USD 2.9 million).
The two Australian radio presenters were suspended and their 'Hot 30' programme cancelled when their the prank call caused a furore after Saldanha committed suicide.
SCA chief executive Rhys Holleran today said the company had "put our processes under the microscope" in response to what he described as an unforeseen tragedy.

"We are reasonably happy with what we have seen and we have seen some areas where we think we can do better than we previously did," he said.

SCA said any continuing financial effect would be immaterial and that the broadcaster's radio brands remained strong with audiences.

One of three suicide notes left behind by Saldanha reportedly blamed the DJs' prank for her death.

Christian has been put back on air as a presenter of Melbourne's morning slot on the Austereo station Fox FM.

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