In March last year, the ABC launched a consumer affairs show, ‘The Checkout’, aiming to increase awareness of purchasers’ rights under The Australian Consumer Law. Members of ‘The Chaser’ and ‘Hungry Beast’ came together with experts from ‘CHOICE’ to produce the show, which has gained a lot of attention since its beginning.
The show immediately stirred a response, as presenter and produce Julian Morrow said, “I’m quite proud of the fact that the very first story of the very first episode of The Checkout did produce legal proceedings, that was Craig’s story about complimentary medicines and there are proceedings in the Victorian Supreme Court by a gentleman who’s the father of the CEO of Swisse.” (Ward 2014). Despite the ongoing case, the show hasn’t refrained from continually targeting the company, and those similar to it.
The ABC has run a number of satirical shows that focus on specific areas, such as The Chaser’s (War on Everything, Hamster Wheel, CNNNN) and Gruen (Transfer, Nation, Decides, Planet). These shows are renowned for sparking discussion within the public sphere. The Checkout achieves this too, but also provides practical information for its users; “In a way, this is like nationally televised business training.” (Kidman 2013).
Morrow described the way that the show is able to spark discussion, saying, “One of the challenges I’ve set for myself and we’ve talked about with the other guys in preparing this show is it’s kind of about trying to create ways of encapsulating an issue so that it occurs to people the next time they have an issue. Comedy can be a good way to do that. Tell a funny scenario. People remember jokes, they talk about them.” (Kidman 2013).
The program has also launched its own experimental platform ‘F.U. Tube’ for viewers to share their personal gripes. Each episode, the segment shows clips of uploaded complaints and how they were resolved. Now boasting a viewership of over 800, 000, The Checkout not only generates conversation, but results too.
Ward, M 2014, The Checkout targets Swisse again despite open lawsuit, Mumbrella, viewed 12 April 2014, <http://mumbrella.com.au/swisse-211889>.
Kidman, A 2013, The Checkout: Lifehacker Talks Consumer Rights With The Chaser’s Julian Morrow, Lifehacker, viewed 12 April 2014, <http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2013/03/the-checkout-lifehacker-talks-consumer-rights-with-the-chasers-julian-morrow/>.