Minimum legacy of $500,000 pledged to nurse's family

The owners of the radio network at the centre of the royal prank call controversy will donate all profits from advertising on 2Day FM for the remainder of the year to ''an appropriate memorial fund'' that will ''directly benefit the family of Jacintha Saldanha'', the Indian-born British nurse who was found dead, apparently by her own hand, last Friday.

Southern Cross Austereo issued a statement late on Tuesday indicating that the suspension of advertising on the Sydney station - part of the Today network that also includes Fox in Melbourne - would end on Wednesday. Any profits from advertising between December 13 and 31 would be donated, and a ''minimum contribution of $500,000 will be made''.

''We are very sorry for what has happened,'' said Austereo chief Rhys Holleran. ''It is a terrible tragedy and our thoughts continue to be with the family. 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.''

News of the planned donation comes as the backlash against the radio network continues to be build, especially in Britain, where interviews on Today Tonight and A Current Affair on Tuesday with the hosts who recorded the prank call were derided for being too ''soft'' and ''sympathetic''. In the interviews, 2Day presenters Michael Christian and Mel Greig deflected responsibility for the decision to air the prank call, in which they impersonated Prince Charles and the Queen and extracted medical information about the Duchess of Cambridge from a nurse after Ms Saldanha put the call through, to mysterious but unnamed powers above them.

''Our role is just to record and get the audio and wait to be told whether it's OK or not OK,'' Christian said.

Austereo has steadfastly refused to identify anyone who was responsible for putting the radio prank to air on the program Hot 30. However, a press release to media on December 7 promoting the prank revealed the names of producers Emily Mills and Ben Harlum, who were credited with playing the role of the corgis.


Austereo confirmed on Tuesday via email that the Hot 30 show's producers, who weren't named, had ''voluntarily been suspended indefinitely'', along with Christian and Greig. Austereo had earlier announced that the Hot 30 show has been cancelled.

The suspension of advertising is believed to be costing 2Day FM about $150,000 a day. Although the prank call was played across the network, advertising on other stations has been unaffected.

Austereo has cancelled the annual Christmas party in Sydney, for about 200 people and planned for Thursday night, out of respect to the Saldanha family. An autopsy on Ms Saldanha is expected to be held next week.

In London, MP Keith Vaz met the nurse's family in Parliament on Monday night and said they had been left ''devastated'' by the loss of a ''loving mother and a loving wife''.

The family also visited the King Edward VII's Hospital. Mr Vaz said the family was ''extremely grateful'' to people throughout the world who had sent messages of condolences and support. A memorial service will be held later this week.

Lifeline 13 11 14