Lisa Wilkinson has made a sudden departure from the Nine Network, after 10 years as host of the Today Show.
It has been widely reported that contract negotiations between Lisa and Nine failed after the network refused to pay her equally to her co-host, Karl Stefanovic.
After six months of negotiations Lisa reportedly refused a $700,000 pay rise, demanding she be paid on par with her co-host who is reportedly on a $2 million contract.
Lisa’s $1.1 million contract increased to $1.8 million, but the increase was insufficient.
Newsreader Sylvia Jeffreys struggled to hold back tears following the announcement, as she congratulated her colleague on being an ‘influential, fun and compassionate woman’.
“It has been an enormous, a tremendous privilege to share a part of Lisa’s Today show experience and it is a tremendous privilege to share a beautiful friendship with her and I know that continues for a very long time to come,” she said on air.
“I did speak with Lisa last night and I thanked her and I congratulated her because ultimately this is an exciting time. It is the start of a brilliant and exciting new chapter and I will be cheering her on as I always do as she takes on this next challenge.
“Here is the thing — seeing is believing for young girls and for young women and what they see in Lisa is a strong, influential, fun and compassionate woman at the very, very top of her game and that is a very powerful thing.”
Her co-host Karl, who admitted he was shocked by Lisa's departure, also paid tribute to a “great friend”.
“For 10 years, Lisa has dragged herself out of bed at 3:30 in the morning, fed the dogs and cats, put a load of washing on and came into work to inform you of what was happening in the world,” he said.
“For 10 years, she handled the brutal hours with grace, beauty and intelligence and a wicked sense of humour. For whatever reason she won’t be doing that anymore. It is safe to say we are all a little shocked and it will take time to sink in.
“So for now this: Thank you. Thank you for the laughs, the sage advice, the calmness, oh, the calmness. And thank you for all of your support. Thank you for being a great colleague. Thanks for being a great interviewer. Thanks for being a great dancer and a truly, truly terrible singer. Thanks for being a great mum. I know you value that more than anything else and thank you for being a great friend.”
Announcing the news via Twitter, Lisa left everyone shocked.
“I have some news, I’m sad to say that today was my last day on the Today show,” she wrote.
She quickly followed the announcement by saying that she would be joining Ten in a senior hosting and editorial role on The Project from January 2018.
Nine said they were ‘disappointed’ that they had not reached an agreement with Lisa.
“Nine today confirmed we have been unable to meet the expectations of Lisa Wilkinson and her manager on a contract renewal for a further period,” they said in a statement.
“We express our gratitude for Lisa for her 10 years with the Today Show and are disappointed we find ourselves in this position.
“Nine will be going in another direction and will be considering our options in coming weeks and months.”