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Budget cuts blamed as ABC shelves The Checkout

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The ABC has axed the upcoming series of long-running consumer affairs television show The Checkout, its producers announced today.

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Executive producer Julian Morrow said in a statement today the ABC had decided against funding the next series of the show which had been in production since 2013.

“We’re disappointed the ABC’s funding priorities do not include The Checkout,” Morrow said in a statement.

He said the ABC had cited budget cuts and the show’s high cost as reasons for the decision.

“It’s true The Checkout’s combination of thorough research and creative ways to present consumer information means it’s not as low cost as some other ABC programs. But the cost of making The Checkout has not increased for two years and the next series would have cost the same or less.

The Checkout was also slated for production in the current financial year, before the Federal Government’s freeze on ABC funding in July 2019.”

Morrow said the producers had tried to make a show that did the “core business of a public broadcaster”, with ABC viewers sending in tips about rip-offs, corporate “double-speak” and “advertising fails”.

“A public broadcaster that’s independent of commercial influence is the natural home – probably the only home – for a show like The Checkout...

“The rip-offs will continue but unfortunately, it seems, The Checkout will not.”

In a statement, the ABC said the show may return in the future.

“The ABC has decided not to commission a seventh series of The Checkout for 2018-19 at this time,” the statement said.

“The programming slate regularly changes for any number of reasons, including the need 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 ABC is proud of its long association with The Checkout and production company Giant Dwarf, with which it has worked on other programs, such as The Letdown and Growing Up Gracefully.”

In the budget handed down in May, the Federal Government announced it would freeze the ABC’s funding for three years from July this year, costing the national broadcaster $85 million.

ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie described the freeze as a cut and said the organisation would not be able to find the savings through “back-office efficiencies” as envisioned by the Federal Government.

“I am very disappointed and concerned that after the measures we have introduced in recent years to deliver better and more efficient services, the Government has now seen fit to deliver what amounts to a further substantial budget cut,” Guthrie said at the time.

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