Station party canned out of respect to nurse

JO CASAMENTO
Last updated 15:45 11/12/2012
tdn prank stand
PRANK SPELLS PARTY'S END: Suspended radio DJs Michael Christian and Mel Greig.

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The annual Christmas party for Southern Cross Austereo staff has been cancelled as the company feels the backlash against 2Day FM's royal prank phone call.

Fairfax Media has learnt the sombre feeling at the station over the tragic death of nurse Jacintha Saldanha extended to radio bosses cancelling the event, which was planned for Thursday night, out of respect to her family. The bash was to be held at the Oxford Arc Factory in Sydney.

Calls to the Darlinghurst venue confirmed the event had been cancelled.

The party, which had been planned before Saturday's news of the death of the British nurse, was cancelled as the station sought to distance itself from responsibility for the prank call to King Edward VII's Hospital on December 4.

After a tough year in which the broadcaster plunged from scandal to scandal, putting out fires largely centred on presenter Kyle Sandilands's on-air gaffes, staff were said to be looking forward to seeing the year out on a high with the Christmas party a chance to finally let down their hair.

"It was like we had just seen the light," said one radio worker in sales.

"Morale had just started to build after the last Christmas, which was bad enough. And now this Christmas is, well, just an awful disaster. Staff are really dejected."

After last week's stunt in which the Summer 30 DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian pretended to be the Queen and Prince Charles in a prank call, the station suspended all advertising, terminated the Hot 30 show, made a company-wide suspension of prank calls and set up a comprehensive review of company policies and processes.

The duo appeared on Channel Seven's Today Tonight and Channel Nine's A Current Affair in carefully scripted interviews on Monday night to speak of their sorrow and regret.

Staff within Austereo are also said to be spooked by a YouTube video, which has since been removed, purporting to be from the vigilante "hacktivist" group Anonymous, which threatened 2Day FM and its advertisers.

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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