'Tired',' immature' prank calls have no place: radio stations

''Tired'' and ''immature'' prank phone calls have no place on the airwaves, according to regional radio stations in Otago.

After the death of a British nurse on Friday last week, just days after she was duped by two Australian radio presenters during an on-air prank, local radio stations have said they would hold to their existing policies of no prank phone calls.

Port FM Network general manager Brent Birchfield said Port FM, which operates radio stations in Oamaru, Timaru, Ashburton and on the West Coast, had never conducted prank calls, and never would.

The company had a long-standing policy that the public should not be put in a position that would cause humiliation or embarrassment on air, Mr Birchfield said.

Radio stations that conducted prank calls that caused embarrassment to people should have their licences revoked, he said.

Setting people up on air was ''just not acceptable'', he said.

''We don't actually believe in that type of thing. The company has a policy of `don't do it'.

''We just don't go there - it's immature radio. Other stations that do it should really be jumped on hard by the Broadcasting Standards Authority.''

Radio Wanaka owner Mike Regal said Radio Wanaka was a community radio station and prank calls were not in keeping with its values.

''It's not something we would do.''

However, he added he had previously worked in corporate radio, and it was clear that the practice was actively ''encouraged'' by some commercial operations.

Mediaworks Southern Lakes and Central Otago general manager Wade Cornelius said the Queenstown-based More FM station had revisited all of its on-air processes as a result of the tragedy.

''As far as our policy regarding prank phone calls - we are continually amending our policies, not just in this area. We have revisited our process thoroughly as a result of the weekend's events. We are completely satisfied our process is ethically and legally sound.''

The station had not conducted a prank call since 2009, Mr Cornelius said.

The format was dropped because it was already becoming ''tired'', he said.

''Prank calls are a very rare occurrence here. Whenever they have been aired it has been with the recipient's permission and blessing.''

- andrew.ashton@odt.co.nz

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