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Thursday, 28 October, 1999, 16:53 GMT 17:53 UK
Shatner call broadcast condemned
Happier times: Nerine and William Shatner
A London radio station has been criticised for broadcasting news bulletins featuring Star Trek actor William Shatner's call to police after he found his wife Nerine's body in their swimming pool.

The Broadcasting Standards Commission upheld complaints against Capital Radio for broadcasting the emergency call.

The station argued the story had already been widely broadcast, and the call had been transcribed in the press.

It also said it aired a warning before the report to avoid any misunderstanding that it was voyeuristic.

Wind-up: Capital DJ Steve Penk was also censured
The BSC said the broadcast went beyond "acceptable boundaries", both because of the "distressing and disturbing" nature of the calls and the times it was transmitted - 0700 and 0800.

Nerine Shatner, 40, drowned in the accident at the couple's California home on 9 August. A post-mortem found she had three times the state's legal alcohol limit in her body when she died, and she also had traces of the sedative drug Valium in her system.

The station was also criticised by the BSC for broadcasting a wind-up call by morning DJ Steve Penk.

He phoned US police pretending to be a tourist who had been robbed, occupying an operator for several minutes.

A listener complained the feature could encourage others to do the same.

The Broadcasting Standards Commission adjudicates on taste, decency and fairness matters across all of the UK's radio and TV stations.

While it can rebuke broadcasters for lapses of its code, it has no power to fine stations or remove their licences.

On Wednesday, Capital Radio announced it was launching a new national digital pop station, Capital UK, to be broadcast on the new Digital One service next year.

See also:

10 Aug 99 | Americas
Star Trek actor's wife found dead
30 Sep 99 | UK
TV watchdog fills top job
19 Aug 99 | Entertainment
Police release Shatner plea
13 Oct 99 | Entertainment
Shatner's wife died while 'drunk'
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