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Lisa Wilkinson joins Today

Lisa Wilkinson, co-host of Seven’s Weekend Sunrise has quit the network to take up the weekday role of Today co-host on the Nine Network.

In a move on what is shaping up as the busiest 24 hours of network changes so far this year, Wilkinson will replace fill-in host Kellie Connolly, who in an unrelated moment fainted on screen this morning.

Wilkinson, who has a background as Editor of Cleo and Dolly, has attracted high praise for her on-air credibility. She will be the fifth co-host for Karl Stefanovic who has previously presented with Tracy Grimshaw, Jessica Rowe, Sarah Murdoch and Kellie Connolly.

Wilkinson takes up the role from May 28.

Seven will now look to fill her chair on Weekend Sunrise after her final episode this weekend (Jessica Rowe anybody?).

Wilkinson was also one of the names rumoured to be joining Larry Emdur on the upcoming Seven morning programme, said to be called Brunch.

Press Release (NINE):

The Nine Network Australia today announced that Lisa Wilkinson will join Karl Stefanovic as co-host of the TODAY show.

Nine’s Director of News and Current Affairs, Garry Linnell, said Wilkinson, the former host of the Seven Network’s Weekend Sunrise program, would join TODAY from Monday, 28 May 2007.

“Lisa is a proven on-air talent with a strong journalistic pedigree,” Linnell said. “Her warmth,empathy and intelligence are ideally suited to a program like TODAY.

“We have exciting plans for the show and Lisa is the perfect addition to a team which has already taken enormous strides forward this year.”

Nine’s TODAY show has made significant gains in audience this year, with a nine per cent rise year-on-year between 7am and 9am, and a 16 per cent hike in the key 6am to 7am news hour.

In contrast, Sunrise has slumped four per cent year-on-year in the 7am to 9am timeslot.

Lisa Wilkinson said: “Breakfast television has become one of the hottest timeslots on TV –and the success of Weekend Sunrise since we launched two years ago convinced me that I wanted to do more. So when Channel Nine suggested doing what I love five days a week,instead of just one, it was, ultimately, impossible to refuse.

“This wasn’t a decision I took on my own, though. With three young children, and a husband (journalist and broadcaster Peter FitzSimons) doing breakfast radio, it was a decision for the whole family. But it made sense. And while I know the 3.30am starts won’t be easy, at least we will all be working to the same early-to-bed body clocks.

“We also have great family support, and both Mel Doyle and Wendy Harmer have often told me over the years that the breakfast slot is one of the most child-friendly in the media for a working mum.

“There’s no doubt I have much to learn in the times ahead, but I’m incredibly excited about the challenge and feel really honored to be joining the TODAY show team at such a very special time in the show’s history – its 25th anniversary.

Linnell said he wanted to thank newsreader Kellie Connolly for the job she has performed as interim host of the TODAY show.

“Kellie has done a great job in the TODAY role and she has shown that she has a big future with Nine.

“We are planning to broaden her contribution and we have several exciting roles in store for her,” Linnell added.

Press Release (SEVEN):
The Seven Network today wished Lisa Wilkinson all the best in her future career at the Nine Network.

Lisa – currently co-hosting Weekend Sunrise – will finish up with Seven this Sunday. Seven will announce the new permanent co-host to join Andrew O’Keefe on the timeslot-dominating Weekend Sunrise in coming days.

Commenting, Seven’s Director of News and Public Affairs, Peter Meakin, said “We’re sorry that Lisa has decided to leave. We would like to thank her for everything she’s done for us. No hard feelings.”

Sunrise dominates breakfast television for the year-to-date. Sunrise is up 62% on Today across 6:00-9:00am. Next week, Sunrise celebrates three consecutive years of week-in, week-out leadership – having moved passed Today on Nine in the same week in 2004.

Seven is the leader in news and public affairs in Australia. Seven News leads Nine News for the year-to-date. Seven News is up 210,000 viewers on Nine News, an 18% audience advantage. Today Tonight leads A Current Affair for the year-to-date. Today Tonight is up 180,000 viewers on ACA, a 16% audience advantage.

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