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Australian radio show at heart of royal prank taken off air permanently

By CNN Staff
updated 11:28 AM EST, Mon January 28, 2013
Jacintha Saldanha apparently committed suicide after routing through a call from the show's DJs to the royal ward.
Jacintha Saldanha apparently committed suicide after routing through a call from the show's DJs to the royal ward.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The show was suspended after the December prank
  • Over the weekend, it is permanently taken off the air
  • The nurse who routed the DJ's call later apparently committed suicide
  • The DJs apologized

(CNN) -- An Australian radio show whose prank targeting Prince William's pregnant wife went horribly wrong has been taken off the air for good.

"The Hot30 Countdown" was suspended temporarily after the December prank, when the network expressed deep regret for the nurse who apparently committed suicide after routing through a call from the show's DJs to the royal ward.

Over the weekend, the show was permanently taken off the air.

The show's Facebook page directed listeners to the show's replacement called "The Bump."

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In response to a user comment, the Facebook page said the two DJ's, Mel Greig and Michael Christian, "continue to have our full support and we look forward to them returning to work when the time is right!"

In early December, the two DJs impersonated Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles and called King Edward VII's Hospital to gain some information about the condition of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.

The pair subsequently played the prank on air.

The nurse who transferred the call through to the ward, Jacintha Saldanha, was later found dead after apparently committing suicide.

An uproar followed.

Who was nurse Jacintha Saldhana?

Prank prompts backlash

The two DJs were taken off the air. And the network, Southern Cross Austereo, suspended all prank calls, pulled advertising and ordered a comprehensive review of relevant policies and process.

Greig and Christian apologized in interviews with the Australian TV shows "A Current Affair" and "Today Tonight."

"There is nothing that can make me feel worse than what I feel right now," Greig said on "Today Tonight."

Aussie DJ scandal: Does radio share the blame?

Christian told "A Current Affair" the prank had become "a tragic turn of events that I don't think anyone could have predicted or expected."

The chairman of the hospital where the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge was a patient slammed the Australian radio station's decision to broadcast the recorded prank call as "truly appalling."

"The immediate consequence of these premeditated and ill-considered actions was the humiliation of two dedicated and caring nurses who were simply doing their job tending to their patients," wrote the chairman, Simon Glenarthur.

"The longer term consequence has been reported around the world and is, frankly, tragic beyond words."

Nurse's family: 'We love you and will miss you forever'

'World's worst accents ever'

Audio of the call posted online suggests a woman spoke briefly to the DJs before she put the call through to the ward where the Duchess of Cambridge was being treated for acute morning sickness.

"They were the world's worst accents ever," Greig told listeners then. "We were sure 100 people at least before us would've tried the same thing. ... We were expecting to be hung up on. We didn't even know what to say when we got through."

Off the air, Greig and Christian tweeted about the practical joke, promising "more on the #royalprank." The pair's Twitter accounts were later taken down.

A St. James's Palace spokesman said the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were saddened to learn of Saldanha's death.

Another palace spokesman told CNN that "at no point did the palace complain to the hospital about the incident. On the contrary, we offered our full and heartfelt support to the nurses involved and hospital staff at all times."

Read more: How to recover from a mistake

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The apparent suicide of Jacintha Saldanha has provoked outrage, sadness and demands for retribution in all corners of the media.
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An Australian radio network defends its prank DJs, saying the media around the world has carried out a "witch hunt" against them.
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