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Aus media watchdog acting outside power: FM station`s lawyer

Last Updated: Thursday, September 19, 2013 - 14:29

Melbourne: Australian broadcast watchdog was acting outside its power while probing a radio station`s jockeys royal prank call that led to the death of an Indian-origin nurse in the UK, a Sydney court was told today.

Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) was acting as "policeman, prosecutor, judge, jury, prison warden and parole officer" when it delivered a preliminary finding in June, 2Day FM station`s lawyer Brent McClintock told the court.

In its report, ACMA had found the station had breached regulations by recording and broadcasting the controversial call made to the Indian-origin nurse Jacintha Saldanha.

McClintock said ACMA was acting outside its powers and its findings could unfairly impact any future criminal proceedings, Australian Associated Press news agency reported.

"The courts are the place and the only place where determinations of criminal guilt can be made," McClintock told the court.

"The (prank call) incident received widespread notoriety ... Nothing would be more prejudicial than the finding by the ACMA. The ACMA must wait until my client is dealt with - if it ever is dealt with - in the court system," he said.

2Day FM wanted the watchdog to be permanently restrained from finding it committed a criminal offence or breached a broadcasting licence condition.

However,?Neil Williams, acting on behalf of ACMA, insisted that the authority had operated within its powers, saying the preliminary report was not a final ruling.

The report further said Justice Richard Edmonds has reserved his judgment and declined to release ACMA`s preliminary report.

Australian DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian made the hoax call to the King Edward VII`s hospital in London, posing as the Queen and Prince of Wales when Prince William`s wife Kate was being treated for a rare form of pregnancy sickness.

Saldanha, 46, who transferred their call to a colleague, who then described Kate`s condition in detail, was found dead in her room a few days after the incident, sparking a backlash against the 2Day FM DJs.

First Published: Thursday, September 19, 2013 - 14:29
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