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ACMA fails again

December 10th, 2012

Following the tragic suicide of a British nurse, the victim of a cruel and unfunny practical joke by an Australian radio station 2DAYFM, what action can we expect from the Australian Communications and Media Authority which is supposed to regulate such matters? Following the most recent of many such breaches of license conditions, in May last year, ACMA warned 2DAY-FM that it could lose its license if such behavior continued. But ACMA has never cancelled a license, and clearly never will. So, we can expect another warning, or perhaps some meaningless, and unenforceable, license conditions.

ACMAs total failure contrasts with the success of the Facebook backlash against Alan Jones, which has cost him and his employers millions in lost advertising revenue, and greatly reduced his power and influence.

At this point, it’s clear that licensing has failed. Rather than continuing with this farce, we should auction the spectrum currently allocated to commercial radio, and let the winners do what they want with it, subject to the ordinary law of the land (which prohibits recording deceptive calls, though this law is never enforced against radio stations). As a community, we should continue to punish the corporations that sponsor the likes of Jones, Kyle Sandilands, and their latest imitators.

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  1. John Quiggin
    December 10th, 2012 at 17:53 | #1


    I guess you didn’t bother to Google “pranks gone wrong” before posting this.

    “I maybe wrong”

    The first sensible thing you’ve posted on this topic.

    As regards Fleet Street, how does their predictably appalling behavior excuse the equally appalling behavior of their Oz counterparts? The media have been disgraceful in general, yet you want to stick it to the victims.

  2. Fran Barlow
    December 10th, 2012 at 18:29 | #2

    @John Quiggin

    I’m at a total loss to understand your eagerness to defend 2DAY-FM, a station with a long history of appalling behavior

    I don’t suppose it is possible that in this particular instance, they might have no case to answer.

    Let me be clear: I have exactly zero interest in protecting asset values in the commercial broadcasting sector. If, tomorrow, every man jack of them concluded that a firesale of their assets was the best course, I’d not be amongst those complaining. If on the day after, a decision was taken to hand out the spectrum and lease the assets bought at firesale to consortiums of community groups representing the spread of community in Australia, then I’d be boasting about it to non-Australians on those days when I was having an illicit dalliance with Australian patriotism.

    As that’s unlikely, I’m open to considering any combination of maintainable measures that would make for a less banal and crass set of offerings on the AM/FM and TV bands. That has nothing to do with this matter, the crassness aside.

    to the point of throwing accusations at named individuals of whom neither of us know anything.

    I made no accusations. I asked questions to which there are not at this stage, reliable answers. Perhaps the hospital really is blameless, but that remains unclear. I doubt the british media is blameless though — and I know that the Daily Mail is not.

    it’s obvious to me that jobs are going to be lost over this

    It’s not obvious to me, and less so than it would have been before this latest tragic twist.

    If I have a dog in this fight it’s the desire to see the whole celebrity culture thing pilloried — you can call that the agenda of an egalitarian of course.

  3. rog
    December 10th, 2012 at 18:33 | #3

    @nottrampis Interesting that the health service, which as a public service is always subject to revenue cuts and political point scoring, is being held to blame for the silly pranks of a commercial entity of no real benefit.

  4. December 10th, 2012 at 18:52 | #4

    Come on john you are catallaxying yourself,
    We were talking about prank calls stress calls in Australia.

    now given your expert status on this do you wish to tell us how many of those over 40 years have ended in tragedy?

    you want to conflate it to all pranks.

    I do note johnathon holmes tonight on 7.30 didn’t think the call was cruel.

    you still do not want to address the major issue which is if the nurse had proper training there would have been no prank call.

    don’t be narky as it doesn’t become you

  5. December 10th, 2012 at 22:06 | #5

    Quite obviously these DJs aren’t mensa candidates.

    Making a joke at the expense of a pregnant woman, in hospital with complications, is very bad taste. Also it isn’t funny.

    The person most likely to be dusting off their resume right now is the lawyer in the legal department of the radio station who gave the go-ahead to broadcast the prank call. It was in breach of radio industry guidelines (i.e. the station did not call back and obtain permission to broadcast the call from those who had been pranked).

    The call itself was funny, not at the expense of the target (which WAS bad taste) but at the expensie of the DJs – because of the juvenile antics during the call. How old are these people, really?

  6. Fran Barlow
    December 10th, 2012 at 22:39 | #6

    @Steve at the Pub

    Making a joke at the expense of a pregnant woman

    Huh? What joke was that? Lady Gravida barely got a mention outside of the news that there was no news. The “joke” if one can so dignify the exchange, was the silly parody of royal usage.

    in hospital with complications,

    “Morning sickness” is no more a “complication” of pregnancy than a hangover is a complication of a night on the turps. She was in a private hospital bed for something working class (and even middle class) women endure with equanimity. This woman was of course, carrying the royal seed, which is obviously different.

  7. Neil
    December 10th, 2012 at 22:45 | #7

    @Fran Barlow
    “She was in a private hospital bed for something working class (and even middle class) women endure with equanimity”.
    Morning sickness comes in variety of forms, not all of which can be borne with equanimity. Kate had hyperemesis gravidarum, which can cause renal failure and death (of mother and baby).

  8. December 10th, 2012 at 22:46 | #8

    Shorter Fran Barlow: She wasn’t pregnant? Her condition had not deteriorated? A medical definition of “morning sickness” varies slightly from the one I used? Dr. Barlow diagnoses that the patient wasn’t really sufficiently ill to be in hospital?

    And any of those somehow make it okay to have a joke at the lady’s expense?


  9. December 10th, 2012 at 22:50 | #9

    Let us not forget the point of this post, which is that our blog host sees a couple of vapid DJs get into hot water, & twists this into “proof” that radio stations should be made to pay through the nose for their use of the airwaves.

    Some things never change! Our blog host has yet to see enterprise without triggering a reflex “this must have the living daylights taxed out of it.”

  10. Fran Barlow
    December 10th, 2012 at 23:08 | #10

    @Steve at the Pub

    You’ve yet to establish that some joke was made/attempted at her expense, even assuming that would be _a_bad_thing. Royalty is an offfensive joke at the expense of humanity. Surely, humanity ought to be able snipe back, given the asymmetric power relationship involved.

    Let us not forget the point of this post, which is that our blog host sees a couple of vapid DJs get into hot water, & twists this into “proof” that radio stations should be made to pay through the nose for their use of the airwaves.

    He made no such claim. Perhaps he should have, but he didn’t.

    re: hyperemesis gravidarum

    “It’s not unusual for pregnant women to get morning sickness, but when it gets to the point where you’re dehydrated, losing weight or vomiting so much you begin to build up (toxic) products in your blood, that’s a concern,” said Dr Kecia Gaither, director of maternal fetal medicine at Brookdale University and Medical Center in New York.
    The condition is thought to affect about one in 50 pregnant women. Dr Gaither said that fewer than 1 per cent of women with the condition need to be hospitalised.

  11. Neil
    December 10th, 2012 at 23:11 | #11

    @Fran Barlow
    An “I was wrong” would have done.

  12. Fran Barlow
    December 10th, 2012 at 23:13 | #12


    Had I been wrong …

  13. Neil
    December 10th, 2012 at 23:19 | #13

    @Fran Barlow
    You said she was in hospital for something that can and is borne with equanimity. I pointed out you were wrong. You replied with a quotation that backed *me* up. Which you take to support your original point. Not your best day (my partner was hospitalized for hyperemesis gravidarum and placed on a drip; I think I can be forgiven for being close to calling you rude names).

  14. Geoff Andrews
    December 10th, 2012 at 23:27 | #14

    The two facts seem to be have consistently reported when one sifts through the Chinese whispers that go for world reporting, are:

    1. the two DJ’s recorded the incident; submitted the recording to the station management/legal/PR(?) teams and were given permission to broadcast. The responsibility (I didn’t say “blame”) obviously returns to management.

    2. When the story went viral, the identity of the nurse who has allegedly committed suicide was not known to the public but would have been known to her colleagues and the hospital administration. I have no doubt that both nurses would have been quite excited to have spoken to the Queen and related their adventure openly to colleagues over a cup of tea.

    The letter of complaint sent by the hospital to the station directly blames the station administration and asserts that:

    “The immediate consequence of these premeditated and ill-considered actions was the humiliation of two dedicated and caring nurses”.

    If they WERE humiliated, it could only have come from within the hospital – colleagues doing a bit of leg-pulling or worse; a formal reprimand by the Matron or worse. So if humiliation was a factor in her death, that humiliation did not originate in Australia.
    Note also that two people were fooled by the supposedly awful accent and we still don’t know the identity of the second nurse (thank goodness) who gave the Queen such terribly terribly personal details, which were probably released in a royal press release an hour after the DJ’s call.

    Perhaps we should all wait for the inquest, which might include evidence from the second nurse.

    As for the station’s pathetic, juvenile attempt at shifting blame “we tried to call five times”: “Mum I tried to call you five times but you were always engaged so I had to sleep over”.

  15. Fran Barlow
    December 10th, 2012 at 23:27 | #15


    Since you missed it the first time:

    The condition is thought to affect about one in 50 pregnant women. Dr Gaither said that fewer than 1 per cent of women with the condition need to be hospitalised.


    Hyperemesis is considered a rare complication of pregnancy but, because nausea and vomiting during pregnancy exist on a continuum, there is often not a good diagnosis between common morning sickness and hyperemesis. Estimates of the percentage of pregnant women afflicted range from 0.3% to 2%

    my partner was hospitalized for hyperemesis gravidarum and placed on a drip; I think I can be forgiven for being close to calling you rude names

    I’m sorry to hear that your partner was particularly unwell. That has no bearing at all on the state of her royal duchiness. What names you call me is a matter for you.

  16. December 10th, 2012 at 23:28 | #16

    “…..some joke was made/attempted at her [Kate Middleton's] expense, even assuming that would be _a_bad_thing…”

    Fran, when you refer to humanity, in the interests of accuracy please refer to it from the outside.

  17. Fran Barlow
    December 10th, 2012 at 23:31 | #17

    Anyway, I did promise to end my commentary on this here, and very much regret not honouring that pledge, so, Rocky & Bullwinkle-like, this time for sure.

  18. Neil
    December 10th, 2012 at 23:36 | #18

    Fran, what *is* your problem with logic? today I said that ‘morning sickness’ exists on a continuum, from the unpleasant to the life threatening. This was in response to your claim that it is merely unpleasant. No amount of your repeating my point will show that I am wrong. Perhaps you think that the relative rareness of it being serious is somehow relevant. Perhaps you think that somehting being relatively rare entails that it doesn’t exist. You point out that it is hard to diagnose. Perhaps you think that its being hard to diagnose means it doesn’t exist. Perhaps you are having a very bad day (like JQ, I note that you are normality sensible).

    How about this for a compromise? SInce you obviously are suffering from some kind of obtuseness that is for the moment unable to be shifted, I will concede that your points are somehow relevant and that morning sickness is never more than unpleasant. You go away happy and I won’t trouble you again. I think that’s the path of least aggravation. Clearly further argument is not going to bring enlightenment in this case (let’s say it won’t bring enlightenment to me).

  19. Geoff Andrews
    December 10th, 2012 at 23:55 | #19

    Come on fellas – go to bed.

    It was a joke, Joyce. It was really at the Queen’s expense. Charles is reported to have had a smile. The nurses were not the target. It had unintended and tragic consequences, the full story of which we as yet do not know. End of story.
    Let’s talk about something really interesting like fiscal nett GDP to debt ratio and it’s effect on AAA membership and by the way, today was cooler than yesterday so yah pooh to global warming I told you so, Steve.

    Good night.

  20. TerjeP
    December 11th, 2012 at 03:38 | #20

    JQ – Leaving aside the debate about the rights and wrongs of pranks I agree with your proposed remedy simply on principle. Although I’d also expect the ABC to have to bid for radio spectrum as well. We expect both the ABC and commercial radio stations to purchase the land they use in open competition with other alternate land users so why not the same with spectrum. It is at the end of the day essentially just another form of real estate.

  21. BilB
    December 11th, 2012 at 05:28 | #21


    The ABC fills the role of providing non commercial public interest content, and is therefore outside the regular commercial tent. Public Interest is a concept that the Libertarian camp tend to reject and the community accepts. Come to think of it Community is a conceptually arbitrary to the Libertarian ideal where freedom is the primary goal.

  22. TerjeP
    December 11th, 2012 at 05:55 | #22

    Clearly you know stuff all about libertarianism so for the moment I’ll just ignore those glib remarks. Except to say that, just like markets, communities are readily built by free individuals without coercion.

    In terms of the ABC it’s financial statement shows that it owns $0.4 billion of land and buildings. It can buy and sell land according to it’s needs on normal commercial terms. The same can be said of it’s web servers and transmission facilities. I see no reason why it should manage spectrum on commercial terms. Obviously it might entail an initial increase in it’s budget to reflect the regime change but there after it should balance it’s priorities across various channels with the cost of delivery. After all it is a corporation.

  23. TerjeP
    December 11th, 2012 at 05:57 | #23

    Correction: I see no reason why it should not manage spectrum on commercial terms.

  24. John Quiggin
    December 11th, 2012 at 06:01 | #24

    @Steve at the Pub

    Hey Steve, welcome back. Still peddling kooky conspiracy theories? I’m keen to know which ones you like and which you don’t.

  25. Julie Thomas
    December 11th, 2012 at 06:27 | #25

    Oh dear in moderation because of profanity I suppose. So without the obcenities;

    Terje “communities are readily built by free individuals without coercion.”

    What rubbish. Got a reference for this claim?

    You have to be delusional to think that ‘individulals’ who can build and participate in markets and communities, just happen. Children require coercion and other inputs from parents, extended family members and to have been involved in a ‘community’ to grow up into adults, hopefully if all goes well.

    It takes a village to raise a child to be an adult that understands what a community is and how to build a good one. How could a collection of individuals all seeking to advance only their own interests build a community?

  26. TerjeP
    December 11th, 2012 at 06:33 | #26

    How could a collection of individuals all seeking to advance only their own interests build a community?

    Are those the only interests you think people care about?

  27. BilB
    December 11th, 2012 at 06:55 | #27

    And, Terje, you don’t see the flaws in the notion of a non commercial public interest media body owned by, and funded by the community from taxes competing in the market place for access to bandwidth?

  28. Julie Thomas
    December 11th, 2012 at 07:07 | #28

    Terje Of course they aren’t the only things libertarians think or care about; so why do you emphasise these things over the ‘other’ things that people do well?

  29. TerjeP
    December 11th, 2012 at 07:10 | #29

    BilB – It is competing either way. It just that if it has to pay on commercial terms rather than being gifted the asset rent free then it also has to commercially weigh it’s alternatives. And if it later decides to sell some of it’s spectrum on commercial terms because it has through innovation found better ways to reach it’s target audience then it will have an appropriate incentive to do so and will free up this resource. If the ABC finds that some of it’s land is surplus to it’s needs it can sell it and free up land for others to use. I really can’t see why you would treat spectrum substantially different to land. Do you think the ABC should be allowed to sell it’s land on commercial terms? Or to exchange it for other more suitable land? How is spectrum substantially different? Sure the borders of spectrum are defined by frequency as well as geography but it is in essence a land like resource that is finite but available for sub-division, sub-letting and all the same basic notions that apply to land. And the ABC is a corporation expected to operate according to normal commercial accounting practices. It may be subject to government grants and it’s goals are not profit oriented but it has always been a corporation.

  30. TerjeP
    December 11th, 2012 at 07:17 | #30

    Julie Thomas :
    Terje Of course they aren’t the only things libertarians think or care about; so why do you emphasise these things over the ‘other’ things that people do well?

    Where did I do that? I attempt to be realistic about incentives and self interest. Not to emphasise one outlook over the other in some exaggerated way. Clearly some people and some groups of people are more self interested than others. However either way I think freedom from institutionalised coercion (i.e. government) is generally the best practice. If we were an ultra selfish society filled with really self centred people I would find the case for centralising power with governments to be even more abhorrent. And if we are not then the need for government is quite limited. At least that is how I see it.

  31. hc
    December 11th, 2012 at 07:24 | #31

    A silly prank perhaps but I laughed – not much, it wasn’t that well done – when I heard ion the TV news the accents and the fake corgi barking. Then it probably becomes a precursor to an unspeakably tragic disaster that no one could have anticipated.

    I think the scale of the consequent tragedy is overriding commomsense in assessing what was at most, a silly prank that went wrong.

    As usual the media are turning the whole thing into a low-effort space filler of unwarranted indignation. Who can be blamed? Who? Who can we crucify today?

  32. Meg
    December 11th, 2012 at 07:36 | #32

    Have we not heard of eggshell plaintiffs? It’s where the defendant is liable for injuries made worse by someone’s pre-existing condition, even if they didn’t know about them.

    ‘Eggshell plaintiffs’ are exactly why you don’t prank people. Because you don’t know them. You don’t know how they’ll react. That is a risk you take. And it’s a risk the station took with its typical lack of editorial judgement.

    Firstly in not getting the consent of people involved (pranks don’t even work if you do this, of course) and secondly in then airing it without consent.

    Pranks are essentially bullying. You can get away with bad behaviour but every once in a while there will be dire consequences.

    I doubt this incident should even be called a ‘prank’ given how trivial people seem to think they are.

    If the aim of your prank is to elicit private medical information through deceptive means then maybe you should just call it fraud.

  33. BilB
    December 11th, 2012 at 07:45 | #33

    That flaw.

    Why would you have a body enter a bidding contest that it cannot loose? This has the effect of raising the cost of the use of the publicly owned (leased out) asset (bandwidth) unnecessarily.

    I suspect though that Libertarians imagine that it should be possible for an individual or group of individuals to “own” the full bandwidth and lease it for maximum gain. Like that would ever happen. But then again there was the Bechtel/Cochacabamba water crisis.

    A commercially monopolised radio bandwidth would bring up some really interesting possibilities such as the cutting of all access to radio communcation at the height of a bush fire storm, because the Country Fire Service had not paid their account. Who else might do such a thing? I know, Telstra. Telstra who cut off all phone connections to the Cook Islands (I think it was the Cook Islands) over delayed payment of accounts.

    These are some of the glib thoughts that I toy with.

  34. Ikonoclast
    December 11th, 2012 at 07:49 | #34

    Ordinary workers were put in jeopardy of official and/or employer criticism, sanction and/or dismissal by an idiotic, juvenile stunt.

    It is the anti-worker aspect of the stunt that really riles me. In our overly hiearchical and exploitative society you should never give ammunition to the “powers that be” to scapegoat individual workers.

    In a sense the DJs are victims also. They are workers too and relatively young and inexperienced. Their management and owners failed them by putting them to juvenile rather than worthwhile work in the first place and failing to follow rule and protocol when allowing the particular segment to go to air.

    The whole thing is a morality tale of the absurdities and mischief created by a system where the pursuit of money trumps common sense and common consideration.

  35. BilB
    December 11th, 2012 at 07:54 | #35

    Good thought there Meg.

    Further to the eggshell argument, in Hoaxing a hospital by phone from afar the pranksters have no measure of what the hospital is coping with at that moment. This was London so the hospital might well have been handling a flood of casualties from a bombing and in the turmoil the might have had any amount of unpredictable access.

  36. rog
    December 11th, 2012 at 08:18 | #36

    Prank calls to emergency services eg ambulance continue to drain resources – pranks cannot be trivialised as “fun”

  37. Katz
    December 11th, 2012 at 08:50 | #37

    Virginia Woolf and others perpetrated a famous hoax against the Royal Navy.

    The hoax was in part motivated by the pacificism of the Bloomsbury Group. Predictably, establishment bloviators called for prosecutions. But nothing of the sort arose. As Wikipedia puts it:

    When the prank was uncovered in London, the ringleader Horace de Vere Cole contacted the press and sent a photo of the “princes” to the Daily Mirror. The group’s pacifist views were considered a source of embarrassment, and the Royal Navy briefly became an object of ridicule. The Navy later demanded that Cole be arrested. However, Cole and his compatriots had not broken any law. The Navy sent two officers to cane Cole as a punishment but Cole countered that it was they who should be caned because they had been fooled in the first place.

    So who wants to cane Mel and Michael?

    PS. Despite the Bloomsburys, WWI broke out.

    PPS. Virginia Woolf later committed suicide.

  38. Bring back Birdy at Catallaxy
    December 11th, 2012 at 09:35 | #38

    I think the key point that Julie Thomas @75 was making is that the pre-social individual is a myth, and that we start life as babies and children in families and communities (of various kinds, depending on the culture), and develop within social relations that shape us, long before it occurs to us to become self-conscious individuals.

  39. December 11th, 2012 at 12:54 | #39

    Last point first: I don’t see how auctioning off spectrum to the highest bidder for the highest price will improve the appalling state of our media.

    On the appalling media:

    My opinion is that the anger from the broad community is because of how rubbish our media is. It routinely engages in lies, hate, spin, propaganda, sensationalism, trivia, misrepresentation, cruel victimisation etc.., etc.., and serves almost no useful or positive purpose to us as a society. People are sick of its self-importance, arrogance, lack of humility and accountability while holding its privileged position as the megaphone and gatekeepers for “the 1%”.

    Blame the hospital: This is simply weird. As I understand it, someone was made to think they were on the phone to a relative of a patient and put the call through to the area caring for that person. The two staff members were, collaterally, held up to international ridicule (the first I heard of this thing was when watching one of those foreign news shows on SBS TV). I can’t see how this could be blamed on lack of training. What would such training look like, and how would it prevent being tricked like this?

    They’re not “journalists”: Seriously, I heard this line of defense on the ABC yesterday. Nobody said they WERE journalists. That is telling because, to my mind, it tends to show that those defending the media know full well that the anger is caused by the appalling state of our media as a whole – ‘entertainment’/'news’/'opinion’/'comment’, they have deliberately blurred all these into one and now don’t like the consequences.

    Couldn’t have been “reasonably foreseen”: As was pointed out above, you take your victim as you find them and if they have an ‘eggshell skull’, that’s your problem not theirs.

    Again it is interesting that reasonable foreseeability is a legal concept pertaining to liability for damages arising from negligence. The “wagonmound” cases would surprise some commenters who would build their defense of our trashy media on lack of reasonable foreseeability.

    You can apologise or be ‘sorry’ for an outcome without being liable at law. My guess is that the public (rightly or wrongly) blame the “media”, as an entity, for the whole thing and see all the spin and PR damage control for the cynical self-justification exercise it is.

    As with so many issues, I have the feeling that the two “sides” here consist of those with a kind of tribal loyalty to the MSM on one hand and the rest of us on the other.

  40. December 11th, 2012 at 14:04 | #40

    “December 11th, 2012 at 06:01 | #24 Reply | Quote @Steve at the Pub

    Hey Steve, welcome back. Still peddling kooky conspiracy theories? I’m keen to know which ones you like and which you don’t.”

    A most unfortunate statement. Most unfortunate indeed.

    Every pronoucement of our blog host henceforth must be viewed through the prism of the above.
    I cannot say if our blog host has sought, or is under, the care of mental health professionals, but I can say that no person will ever, in my presence, quote him or any research/work of his, as a reliable source. Neither will any committee I am a member of accept any report/recommendation that is authored in whole or in part by him.

    Given the above juvenile twittering, how could I do otherwise?

  41. J-D
    December 11th, 2012 at 15:04 | #41

    Thanks, Steve, for that ‘We warn the Czar!’ moment.

  42. Julie Thomas
    December 11th, 2012 at 15:43 | #42

    Thanks I did mean that and also, Bring Back Birdy, I want libertarians to tell me when and how we decide that an individual is an adult, and hence ready to take responsibility for their choices and actions?

    Does chronological age tell us how mature an individual is?

    Or is there some test we can give people to determine if they have, not only the intelligence, but the other capacities that are needed to function in the way that libertarians believe would create a perfect world.

  43. Jim Rose
    December 11th, 2012 at 15:54 | #43

    The issue is the lawfulness of deception in society. When people pretend they are someone else, the law presumes that they are up to no good. A very safe assumption.

    Telephone pranks are the low tech predecessors of hacking. At a minimum, both waste other people’s time in the first instance and through the need for additional safeguards against unauthorised and malicious access.

    How was the prank call different from hacking the computer records of the hospital?

  44. Katz
    December 11th, 2012 at 16:44 | #44

    As FB correctly noted @ #7 above:

    It should be noted that deception is not a crime per se. One is entitled to lie to people and to misrepresent oneself. It only becomes illegal/tortious when one relies on that to obtain some benefit to which one would not have a legal entitlement or a benefit at the expense of the person deceived. One would be hard pressed to show a benefit surrendered by the receiving parties surrendered as a consequence of the deceptive call. One might say that, at a couple of removes, 2DAYFM received a benefit (ratings, elevated advertising rates, custom) and thereafter the announcers get paid from these proceeeds, but the linkage is tenuous and would fall well short of the “obtain benefit through deception” standard. It’s really too remote, IMO.

    Laws preventing unauthorized broadcast of material is another matter.

    In order to prove a case of negligence against 2DAY and/or the DJs, the nurse’s family would need above all demonstrate on a balance of probabilities that the broadcast itself caused the mental shock that resulted in her suicide. The respondents in such a case could demonstrate that it was not the broadcast itself but the way in which the British media made use of that broadcast which caused the mental shock.

  45. TerjeP
    December 11th, 2012 at 17:37 | #45

    I want libertarians to tell me when and how we decide that an individual is an adult, and hence ready to take responsibility for their choices and actions?

    If you’re looking for some utopian answer to that question there is no magic number. However the law offers a couple of suggestions. For example 16 for sex and 18 for death by war or drunk by alcohol. Unless a judge determines the person to lack mental competence. Instead of chasing lifeboat examples why not deal with the practical realities of life. Adults are overwhelmingly capable of making their own decisions.

  46. Dan
    December 11th, 2012 at 18:01 | #46


    As an adult who I think would be judged by most criteria of having made good decisions, I’m not at all sure that ‘decisions’ as such exist.

  47. J-D
    December 12th, 2012 at 09:07 | #47

    It is reported that Jacinta Saldanha left a suicide note, but the contents have not been disclosed. To me it seems over-hasty to draw conclusions about her suicide without knowing the contents of that note.

    Of course it’s possible to form a view about the behaviour of the radio station and its employees without drawing any conclusions about the suicide.

  48. David Allen
    December 12th, 2012 at 09:22 | #48


    This is the complete conversation between 2Day FM and the nurse in question according to the published transcript.

    GREIG: Oh hello there, could I please speak to Kate please, my granddaughter?
    NURSE: Oh yes, just hold on ma’am.
    GREIG: Thank you.

    The rest of the call is with another different nurse.

  49. Jeff Rankin
    December 12th, 2012 at 09:38 | #49

    @David Allen

    Oh hello there, could I please speak to Kate please, my granddaughter?

    The funny part of that is Kate had been her granddaughter, the caller couldn’t have been the Queen, unless the marriage is incestuous, or William isn’t a close blood relative of the Queen.

  50. Katz
    December 12th, 2012 at 10:33 | #50

    The second nurse was entitled to believe that she was actually speaking with an authorized person, having been allowed access by the gatekeeper on the switchboard.

    Therefore, the person on the switchboard was responsible for enabling unauthorized access.

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