That title is a rather poorly mixed metaphor, but it’s true, the end of Australia’s longest running, and as far as I can tell, only remaining viewer feedback program is very sad.
Hotline has been around in a number of formats for a very long time, as they emphasised in their final episode  last night.
It is obvious why Hotline is going…it’s five minutes of an hour which rates very well for SBS and could easily be turned in to more advertising revenue. SBS advise us that they are still interested in our comments and concerns, but now that they have no way to actively promote this feedback, and to advise us of decisions they have made, I do have to question their commitment to such feedback.
Hotline was a rather popular show, and really spearheaded the genre of viewer feedback programs in this country. Other stations tried it, notable examples include Feedback with Indira Naidoo on ABC Television, and Line To Nine, obviously on Channel Nine, which was regrettably never broadcast on the regional relay stations which make up a large percentage on Nine’s effective audience.
Despite these unfortunately failed attempts at creating shows of this genre on other networks, Hotline remained a popular, and sometimes controversial example of the genre, and was in many ways a perfect way to promote anything and everything being screened on the network without being an advertisement.
Perhaps it was unpalatable after all these years to run a show which both praised and criticised the network, and I’m sure the bottom line will look better once the tiny budget of the show gets converted in to five minutes of national advertising revenue, but there can be no doubt that the credibility of SBS has been diminished by the decision to axe Hotline. It may not have been nice to have a show which aired criticism of the network, but SBS looked very mature and responsive for that.
Somehow I doubt that black box of their email address they have left behind, which is the only replacement for Hotline, will be anywhere near as credible as the show itself.
Perhaps SBS will reverse their decision, but I highly doubt it. Hotline’s demise marks the end of an era in Australian television, and SBS’ apparent and continued move away from its original purpose.
I, for one, will miss Hotline.