Australian DJ in tragic Kate prank named 'Top Jock'

SYDNEY (AFP) - An Australian DJ who prank-called a London hospital in a stunt which had tragic consequences when a nurse committed suicide has been named a "Top Jock" by his bosses.

Michael Christian's employer Southern Cross Austereo on Tuesday said it was "thrilled" to crown the DJ, who now works on Melbourne's Fox FM mornings slot, as one of its top presenters.

Christian endured a global backlash, along with his then co-host Mel Greig, in December when their prank call to a hospital caring for the pregnant wife of British royal Prince William ended badly.

Indian-born nurse Jacintha Saldanha transferred the hoax call from the DJs pretending to be Queen Elizabeth II and William's father Prince Charles to a colleague who divulged details of Ms Kate Middleton's severe morning sickness.

The broadcast of the call made global headlines and nurse Saldanha was found hanged three days later.

Australia's Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said the award was in poor taste given the circumstances.

"I think there's a bit of bad taste involved there," he told Melbourne radio station 3AW on Wednesday.

"There were some very serious consequences of what was a prank, and to be seen to be rewarding people so soon after such an event, I think, is just in bad taste."

Christian hinted at the incident in his acceptance of the prize, which comes with a trip to Los Angeles for a studio tour.

"From the start I felt like I had something to prove to myself," he said in a statement.

"That regardless of all that's happened in the past few months I'm still at the top of my game. So it felt good to see my name at the top of the final leader board."