Whatever happened to the ABC’s relationship with The Chaser?

“First time since 2001 that the ABC has declined to fund it.”

Just last week in Mediaweek’s festival of dangerous ideas with The Chaser, one of the few sensible comments came from Dominic Knight about possible TV plans for 2019.

He told Mediaweek they would like to do an election series as they always enjoy them.

See also: The Chaser unplugged: Taylor, Firth, Knight and Hansen unload

However, when the ABC revealed its programming plans for 2019 there was no sign of The Chaser or an election special.

What has happened to the relationship between Australia’s premier comedy troupe and the Australian public broadcaster?

Obviously disappointed, The Chaser tweeted on Monday about the decision not to have the team confronting politicians across Australia:

“First time since 2001 that the ABC has declined to fund it. Perhaps Sky News provides enough satire nowadays?”

A little later they revealed what they may do in 2019:

“Instead of doing an election show, we’ve decided to set up a conservative competitor to GetUp.”

Chaser member Charles Firth told The Sydney Morning Herald that the ABC claimed “they didn’t have the money” for an election series.

Firth added:

“The ABC is an institution in crisis, and it’s a very deliberate thing that’s happened.

“This decision, along with lots of other decisions, should leave everyone in no doubt that the Liberals have done their work on the ABC and it’s not the institution it once was.”

The ABC, however, told Fairfax Media: “The Chaser didn’t pitch an election special to the ABC for next year and advised us it was already in discussions with a commercial network.”

Firth confirmed to Fairfax the group had undertaken negotiations with commercial broadcasters.

“We talked to everyone. When we talked to Nine they said, ‘Why doesn’t the ABC fund it? It’s what the ABC should’ve done!’”

Programs from The Chaser over the years have been among the highest rating comedies to screen, not just on the ABC but on any TV channel.

Just last year the ABC decided to end production of the consumer affairs show The Checkout. The ABC said at the time it was on hiatus, but the series, which first appeared in 2013, has yet to be recommissioned.

While not a production from The Chaser, the show from CJZ featured The Chaser’s Craig Reucassel and Julian Morrow.

Listen: Mediaweek’s podcast with The Chaser’s Dominic Knight

Top Photo:  The Chaser 2018: Craig Reucassel, Chris Taylor, Charles Firth, Dominic Knight and Andrew Hansen


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