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Prank call radio station to donate funds to nurse's family

By Laura Smith-Spark and Marilia Brocchetto, CNN
updated 10:31 AM EST, Wed December 12, 2012
The family of Jacintha Saldanha -- daughter Lisha, husband Ben Barboza and son Junal -- in London on Monday.
The family of Jacintha Saldanha -- daughter Lisha, husband Ben Barboza and son Junal -- in London on Monday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Hospital chairman says its memorial fund would welcome a donation from 2DayFM
  • 2Day FM says its profits up to the end of the year will go to a fund for Saldanha's family
  • Jacitnha Saldanha apparently committed suicide after being duped by a prank call by DJs
  • The radio station has faced heavy criticism over its decision to broadcast the call

(CNN) -- The Australian radio station which made a prank call to a UK hospital that apparently resulted in the death of a nurse said Tuesday that it would donate at least 500,000 Australian dollars (US$524,000) to a fund for the nurse's family.

Jacintha Saldanha apparently committed suicide after being duped by the prank call from two DJs seeking information on Prince William's pregnant wife, Catherine.

Read more: Radio personalities apologize for prank call

The Sydney-based 2DayFM radio station has come under heavy fire over the hoax call.

The media group which owns 2DayFM said it would resume advertising on the station -- halted in the wake of the tragedy -- beginning Thursday, with all profits until the end of the year going to "an appropriate fund" that would directly benefit Saldanha's family and a minimum contribution of 500,000 Australian dollars.

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"We are very sorry for what has happened," said Rhys Holleran, chief executive of Southern Cross Austereo.

"We hope that by contributing to a memorial fund we can help to provide the Saldanha family with the support they need at this very difficult time."

Saldanha put through a call from the DJs to a nurse on the ward at King Edward VII's Hospital, where the Duchess of Cambridge was being treated for acute morning sickness early last Tuesday.

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The 46-year-old nurse was found dead three days later in living quarters in central London provided by her workplace. She left a husband and two children.

An autopsy will be carried out Tuesday in Westminster, London's Metropolitan Police said.

The hospital has said that it is also collecting donations from the public for the family and asked that checks be made out to King Edward VII's Hospital -- Jacintha Saldanha Memorial Fund and mailed to Finance, King Edward VII's Hospital, 10 Beaumont Street, London. W1G 6AA.

"She was an outstanding nurse whose loss has shocked and saddened everyone at the hospital," said chairman Lord Glenarthur. "Following discussions with her family, we have now established the Jacintha Saldanha Memorial Fund in her memory."

Many donations have already been made from around the world, he said, and the hospital would "certainly welcome" a contribution from Southern Cross Austereo.

There has been a fierce public backlash against the radio station, both within Australia and worldwide, since its decision to broadcast the pre-recorded prank call.

The two DJs, who impersonated Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles in the call, made tearful apologies on Monday for what had happened.

Mel Greig and Michael Christian, both crying at times, told two Australian television shows that their thoughts were with Saldanha's family.

"I'm very sorry and saddened for the family, and I can't imagine what they've been going through," Greig said on the program "Today Tonight."

Christian described himself as "gutted, shattered and heartbroken."

Read more: Nurse death sparks outrage, casts glare on 'shock jocks'

"For the part we played, we're incredibly sorry," Christian said on "Today Tonight."

Both have said that they never expected the call to go through.

They also stressed Monday that while they made the call to the hospital, they did not have a say on whether it went to air. The call was recorded and then went through a vetting process at their network before it was broadcast, they said.

Share prices for Southern Cross Media Group dropped by as much as 8% Monday following the controversy, according to Australian media reports.

A number of big advertisers pulled their spots from 2DayFM before it took the decision temporarily not to run ads.

Profits for the media group as a whole were 95 million Australian dollars in the year to June 2012, up from 64.1 million a year earlier, according to the company's 2012 annual report. It was the first full-year earnings report since Southern Cross Media and Austereo Group merged in May 2011.

Holleran last week said he was "deeply saddened" by the nurse's death but defended the legality of the station's action, saying he was "very confident that we haven't done anything illegal."

The Australian Communications and Media Authority, the country's media regulator, has said it will be "engaging with" the network "around the facts and issues surrounding the prank call."

London's Metropolitan Police have contacted Australian authorities in relation to the call, but "are not discussing about what or with who" they're talking, a spokesman told CNN.

A spokeswoman for New South Wales Police in Australia told CNN: "As the investigation into the death of London nurse Jacintha Saldhana continues, New South Wales Police will be providing London's Metropolitan Police with whatever assistance they require."

Aussie DJ scandal: Does radio share the blame?

CNN's Laura Perez-Maestro and Per Nyberg contributed to this report.

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