As the last public settlement to arise out of the 2012 2DayFM royal prank call, Southern Cross Austereo on Tuesday aired a three-hour mental-health special across its Hit network.

As Crikey noted yesterday, anyone who didn’t tune in bang on 7pm would have likely been oblivious to the reason the station had turned its focus on mental health — it was a compromise reached with the Australian Communications and Media Authority, after the broadcast regulator considered making 2DayFM broadcast dead air as punishment for its infamous prank phone call.

We asked Southern Cross Austereo a series of questions about this yesterday, including about the “partnership” with commercial apps Shazam and Twitter during the supposedly commercial-free broadcast, but didn’t hear back by deadline. We also put a series of questions to the ACMA, and got a response yesterday afternoon.

“We confirm that the licensee broadcast the program consistent with the undertakings it gave the ACMA,” a spokesperson told us. “We reiterate our view that it was intended as a constructive contribution to the debate on a number of societal issues, in particular, mental health issues.”

The ACMA spokesperson says the regulator is pleased with the way it went.

“We are hopeful that the mature way the impasse was resolved following the ACMA’s breach findings might, in the longer term, encourage behavioural change within the broadcasting community more generally when breaches are found and remedial action is required.”

On the topic of mental health programming, it’s amusing to note that what was meant as punishment for 2DayFM makes prime-time programming over at Aunty. The ABC’s Mental As launches on Sunday. It’s the second year the ABC has devoted a whole week to programming on mental health. — Myriam Robin

Peter Fray

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