"Top Jock" Award For Australian DJ Who Staged Royal Hoax

Created: 2013-06-05 16:37 EST

Category: World > Asia Pacific

One of the Australian radio presenters who staged a royal prank call linked to the suicide of a London nurse has been awarded the title of "Top Jock" by his employer, radio network Southern Cross Austereo.

Michael Christian was the joint winner in one of the categories of an internal competition that recognises the company's "best in the land". He was awarded a trip to Los Angeles as part of his prize.

Christian and his colleague Mel Greig made a prank call to the London hospital treating Prince William's wife, Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, in December 2012.

Nurse Jacintha Saldanha put the call through to a colleague who, despite the DJs' unconvincing accents, disclosed details of the duchess's medical condition. Saldanha was found hanged in her apartment days after the call.

National Communications Minister Stephen Conroy told a Melbourne radio station that the award was in "bad taste".

But another 2Day FM presenter, Kyle Sandilands, said it's time to move on from Christian's mistake.

[Kyle Sandilands, DJ]:

"He's a good announcer. What, we are just going to bash this kid for the rest of his life for one mistake that he's made. I think you got to, it's a terrible situation what happened but the kid's a kid. We can't just keep bullying him in the press every time he does anything good or bad."

But Sydney residents were less sympathetic on Wednesday.

[Emily Faye, Blogger]:

"It affected quite a lot of people and a nurse committed suicide over it so it's not really okay to do that, to give someone an award for doing something so wrong."

Christian was in his first week at the Sydney station 2Day FM when the prank was staged.

Following a public backlash, Southern Cross promised to donate advertising revenue to a fund for Saldanha's family with a minimum contribution of A$500,000.