Radio group defends chairman's prank words

AAP
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Radio group defends chairman's prank words

Southern Cross Media's chairman says his comments about the royal prank were taken out of context.

Southern Cross Media's chairman has accused a British MP of relying on sensationalist media reports to condemn his language about a tragic royal radio prank.

British MP Keith Vaz says Max Moore-Wilton's comments, playing down last year's incident on Sydney radio station 2Day FM as "s*** happens", were an insult to the memory of Jacintha Saldanha, who committed suicide after being a victim of the prank.

But Mr Moore-Wilton says Mr Vaz was basing his criticism on selective Australian media reporting.

"Mr Vaz should look at the transcript of my comments and take it in context rather than listening to the truncated and sensationalist reports of the Australian media," he told AAP.

"What the media commentary focused on was a one sentence that I made and presumably that's what Mr Vaz is focusing on."

Mr Moore-Wilton defended the comments he made on Tuesday to shareholders at Southern Cross Media's annual general meeting in Melbourne.

"It's in the eye of the beholder. It's entirely Australian. I don't know whether it's British but it's certainly ... been used by many Australians to express a point of view," he said.

"I'm not here to be censored for my use of a word which is common in everyday parlance in Australia.

"If you don't like it, or the media don't like it, well that's fine."

Mr Vaz, who has been speaking on behalf of Ms Saldanha's family, called on Mr Moore-Wilton to apologise for his comments.

"This is an insult to the memory of a loving mother and wife," the Labour MP said in a statement.

"The radio station has clearly not learnt the lessons from this incident.

"Mr Moore-Wilson must apologise for his comments immediately."

While Mr Moore-Wilson remained defiant, Southern Cross Media's Austereo division on Wednesday issued a statement to "clarify" what was said.

"Mr Moore-Wilton would like to emphasise that his words should not be read as his or the company's lack of concern or sympathies towards those who have been involved in the royal prank call issue," it said.

The company also criticised other media outlets for taking its chairman's comments "out of context" after a shareholder asked if there was a cultural problem.

In December 2012, 2Day FM presenters Mel Greig and Michael Christian rang King Edward VII's Hospital in London, posing as the Queen and Prince Charles, inquiring about the health of a then pregnant Duchess of Cambridge.

Ms Saldanha, 46, transferred the call to a duty nurse who gave out information about the Duchess, and later took her life.

A British coronial inquest is investigating the matter, which Mr Moore-Wilton said was an unfortunate incident.

"This happened and there was nothing that we could have done to prevent it," he said.

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