The Checkout is not dead, it’s just resting.
News that the popular ABC TV consumer issues series, from the team behind The Chaser, is being put on ice just as the seventh series was about to go into production was broken by executive producer Julian Morrow this afternoon. But there appears to be a difference of opinion worthy of a Current Affairs investigation about the show’s future. The ABC says it’s not canned, just in “hiatus”.
Morrow claims the ABC’s head of non-scripted production “explained the decision not to fund another series of The Checkout by citing budget cuts and the relatively high cost of making the show”.
The program was nominated for Most Outstanding Entertainment Program, at the 2015 Logie Awards, and in some instances was ahead of the curve on consumer issues.
The Checkout first raised Nurofen misleading consumers with “targeted pain” products in 2013. Two years later the ACCC launched legal action against the company which resulted in a $6 million fine.
And last year it tackled Swiss ticket reseller Viagogo, which price-gouged customers and offered tickets that didn’t exist to events. Viagogo subsequently faced regulatory state-based crackdowns across Australia and the ACCC launched legal action against it, alleging misleading or deceptive conduct.
The ABC says it decided not to commission the series for 2018-19 “at this time”, adding that it needs to “strike a balance between new and returning programs for audiences”.
“Putting The Checkout on hiatus does not preclude the program from returning in the future,” the national broadcaster said in a statement.
Morrow says the programs cost has not increased for two years and the now-canned production was slated for the current financial year, “before the Federal Government’s freeze on ABC funding in July 2019”.
“We’re disappointed the ABC’s funding priorities do not include The Checkout,” his statement says.
And as fans of the show went berserk on Twitter, the ABC’s attempted defence of the decision looked a lot like Monty Python’s famed dead parrot sketch, in which the pet shop owner argues with the man who bought the bird that it’s not dead, only resting.
The ABC has not axed The Checkout. A link to the ABC statement on the program is here. https://t.co/45qjEyEkWk
— ABC Communications (@ABCMediaComms) July 6, 2018
The show offered its own feisty response.
Hmmm, I wonder what #thecheckout would have made of this kind of spin.
— The Checkout (@checkouttv) July 6, 2018
Many of The Checkout’s fans were not buying the ABC’s version:
Aunty, I love you, I’ve spent most of my career working for you, but this statement is bollocks. There’s no such thing as “in hiatus”. There is “in production”, and “not in production”. Like there’s “employed” and “lots of great people lost their jobs today”. Own your decision. https://t.co/texThtFxMT
— @domknight (@domknight) July 6, 2018
— steve taylor (@thatstevetaylor) July 6, 2018
Turns out KRudd wasn't turfed out, either: His Prime Ministership just went on hiatus #ripcheckouttv
— Donnie Mountjoy (@DonnieMountjoy) July 6, 2018
But Morrow could see an upside to the show’s canning, comparing it to Grant Denyer, who won the Gold Logie on Sunday after his show, Family Feud, was axed.
— Jules Morrow (@julesmorrow) July 6, 2018
However’s it’s clear the series has fans in high places:
We’re sad to hear the news of no immediate plans for season 7 of @checkouttv. The show's producers, writers & hosts have done an incredible job over the years informing Australians about consumer rights & holding businesses to account. We need shows like the Checkout #accccccc
— ACCC (@acccgovau) July 6, 2018
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