The female presenter of one of Australia’s most prestigious TV news shows has moved to a rival channel amid reports that she was not able to get pay parity with her male co-presenter.
Lisa Wilkinson, 57, announced that because the Nine Network had been “unable to meet her expectations”, she was joining Channel Ten’s The Project.
Her announcement brings an end to six months of contract negotiations.
Wilkinson made her last appearance on the Today show on Monday.
The talks between her and the Nine Network were held up because of her demand to have pay parity on the breakfast programme with her co-host, Karl Stefanovic, The Daily Telegraph and other media outlets reported.
The paper, quoting “well-placed sources”, said that Stefanovic earns about $A2m (£1.2m; $1.5m) a year compared to about $A1.1m (£650,000; $870,000) earned by Wilkinson.
Nine was reported to have offered to increase her salary to a $A1.8m annual package, which it says would have put her and Stefanovic “on the same pay scale”.
The station has denied pay inequality between the two presenters, arguing he would only have earned more under the new arrangement because he has “extra commitments”.
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Wilkinson’s transfer to the rival station will result in her becoming one of the highest paid female presenters in Australian television, officials say.
The contract talks between the two parties were reported to have been “abruptly terminated” on Monday during a hastily arranged meeting in which “the Nine boss decided not to renew Wilkinson’s contract which expires at the end of the year”, The Daily Telegraph said.
Soon after she made the announcement, Network Ten announced the host would join them in January. Its award-winning news and current affairs The Project programme is due to be expanded to six nights a week.
The channel’s Chief Content Officer Beverley McGarvey described Wilkinson as “one of the most respected journalists and television presenters in Australia”.
Nine’s Director of News and Current Affairs Darren Wick said that efforts had been made to negotiate a new contract for nearly six months, but the two parties could not come to terms.
Wilkinson in a tweet said she was “absolutely thrilled” to begin her new role.