The role of Australia’s mass media regulations in the death of Jacintha Saldanha: Dirty Tricks or just incompetence???

Ben Barboza and Jacintha SaldanhaEXTRACT: In essence, Jacintha Saldanha died because 2Day FM  had little grounds to be concerned about any penalties that may be imposed for illegally recording the phone call without Jacintha’s prior knowledge or  informed permission.”

This is a re-edited posting that summarizes what I believe are the key points for consideration of the circumstances in Australia that may have triggered the untimely death of Jacintha Saldanha. In the final analysis, what really matters is the actions of people who should have known better and who apparently acted without thought for the easily foreseeable, potentially lethal consequences of their actions.

“ACTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES.”

Last Sunday my church pastor, the Rev’ Denis Hillson, preached a sermon in which he constantly repeated the “actions have consequences” mantra. He was so right!

“let market forces trump the regulators” 2Day FM tried and Jacintha died.

On November 28th 2012, Kym Williams made a speech at the Melbourne Press Club in which he reportedly foolishly (and arrogantly) suggested that the Australian mass media should “let market market forces trump the regulators”, i.e. mass media market forces were more important than obeying the law.  

  1. It is now a matter of historic fact that  just 6 days later 2Day FM tried to “trump the regulators” by ignoring laws that prohibit the secret recording and broadcasting of phone calls and as a consequence, Jacintha was so traumatized that it triggered her death, i.e. she died because people failed to empathetically consider the consequences of their words and actions.

“Felony Murder.”

For anyone who has not read any of my previous blog postings, under Australian federal laws, the secret recording of telephone conversations is an indictable offence and this is a major problem for the 2Day FM personnel involved in the secret recording of the fatal phone call. Under Section 18 of the New South Wales Crimes Act, any death that results from an indictable offence is a murder and the mandatory penalty is 20 years with a non-parole period of 15 years.

  1. Clearly, anyone involved in the illegal phone call could thus be facing murder charges if the inquest determines that the illegal phone call was the catalytic factor in Jacintha’s death.
  2. The problem for both the Australian Government and the Australian mass media is that Jacintha’s death is just one of many mass media triggered deaths that have occurred over a period of decades.
  3. Australia’s mass media regulations are so shoddy that they only protect the mass media from the public rather than protecting the public from unconscionable conduct by the nation’s mass media.ACMA  2729 page 5

Jacintha died because 2Day FM personnel had little grounds to be concerned about any penalties that may be imposed for illegally recording the phone call with Jacintha without her permission. 

  1. As the above extract from ACMA Report 2729 makes quite clear, the potential emotional impact of the “prank” had to be “severe” and, incredibly, the ACMA did not consider the appalling suicide rate amongst Australia’s vilified welfare recipients to be a “severe” problem.”
  2. Go figure that one! Is it any wonder that 95% of complaints to the ACMA are not upheld if suicides by welfare recipients who are constantly vilified by the mass media are not considered to be “serious” response?
  3. It is clearly self evident that the well paid middle class bureaucrats who decide what is “serious”, do so not from an empirical base of human impact incidents and complaints but from narcissistic class based subjective opinions.
  4. The danger in this is that legal “Duty of Care” obligations to vulnerable people in society are violated and that has implications for the rest of society.
  5. For example, with compensation payments of $4.3 million in 2 recent negligence cases, the political and financial ramifications of any finding that 2Day FM was negligent in causing the death of Jacintha has potentially massive, multi-billion ramifications in Australia because of the scale of the death toll associated with bureaucratic insensitivity and deliberate mass media vilification.
  6. A class action by families of deceased victims could see taxpayers and shareholders facing massive compensation liabilities.
  7. Further compounding this legal complexity is the fact that Australia’s next federal election will occur on September 14th 2013, and the shocking reality is that both of Australia’s major political parties have for decades turned a blind eye to the role played the mass media in driving up Australia’s suicide rate. Voter reaction from hip-pocket-nerve traumatized voters is the stuff of nightmares for federal politicians and their powerful vested interest supporters.
  8. As a future posting will reveal, even minor parties and prominent independent politicians have turned a blind eye to this death toll.

The bottom line is that there is no shortage of powerful or highly influential people in Australia who want to sweep Jacintha’s death under the carpet. This may be due to malicious intent or it simply may be that they do not want the world to know just how dangerous a stupid, arrogant mindset can be.

In the final analysis, regardless of what finding the inquest comes up with, Australia’s mass media regulators (the ACMA) are regarded with such contempt by the mass media that market forces are perceived as being more important than Rule of Law and that is why Jacintha Saldanha is dead.

Am I correct in making that assessment or have I go it wrong?

I leave you to make up your mind about that.

Ron Medlicott – A Christian advocate for Justice.

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