Nine News presenter Mark Ferguson has suddenly signed with the Seven Network.
It is believed he will read weekend news for Seven.
Ferguson was demoted from his role as Nine’s Sydney weeknight newsreader earlier this year, when Peter Overton was elevated to the role by John Westacott in January. Ferguson was shuffled to weekends.
This week he also began on Nine’s new afternoon show, THIS afternoon, as its news presenter. The show has had a slow start, premiering with 321,000. On Wednesday its Sydney audience dropped to a paltry 48,000. Yesterday it had 307,000 nationally.
Ferguson has also appeared in promos for the new show, co-hosted by Andrew Daddo and Katrina Blowers.
John Westacott recently retired as head of Nine’s News and Current Affairs with Mark Calvert now in his place.
Updated: The Daily Telegraph now reports Ferguson will finish his contract in October, continuing with THIS afternoon and Nine News weekend bulletins before moving to Seven. It also reports his contract negotiations with Nine would have seen a pay cut. However, the Sydney Morning Herald reports CEO David Gyngell made a “significant” offer to retain him. There is wide speculatation Chris Bath would take over from a retiring Ian Ross at Seven at such time as that occurs – a long held notion in the industry.
In a statement issued by Nine, the network said it was very disappointed Ferguson has turned down the generous offer that was made to re-new his contract:
Nine CEO David Gyngell said today, “Mark has been a colleague and friend for many years. I wish him all the best. We’re actually flattered that another network had to look to Nine to find a new newsreader.
“Our own news service is the strongest its been for many years, it’s building a dedicated audience. We’re delighted that Georgie Gardner is joining Pete Overton and the 6pm team to continue the fight back. They both bring a warmth and authority which Nine’s viewers appreciate.”
Mark Ferguson said: “I’ve had a wonderful journey at Channel Nine – and worked alongside some great people – but it’s time for a change. I wish David and his team all the very best.”
Mark Ferguson will continue on air as part of the Nine News team until his current contract ends later this year.
Nine added the Ferguson will be greatly missed by his colleagues: “Everyone at Nine wishes Mark and his family all the best for the future.”
Meanwhile Seven finally confirmed its signing mid afternoon, saying Ferguson will join Seven News when his contract with Nine expires towards the end of this year.
CEO of Seven Media Group, David Leckie: “Ian Ross, Chris Bath and Samantha Armytage are brilliant. Mark is Nine’s best news anchor. We clearly have the best in the business.
“It will be great to have Mark onboard with our market-leading news and public affairs teams.
“Although we are not announcing his job description just yet, I know we can offer him something far more challenging and exciting than THIS Afternoon. We’re number one. And, unlike some, we don’t need to toss money at viewers to persuade them to watch our news and public affairs and breakfast television programmes.”
Ian Ross said: “I welcome Mark’s decision to come to Seven. It’ll fun working with again.”
On today’s THIS afternoon, Andrew Daddo hinted at the news even acknowledging the loss of another ‘icon.’ But his repeated teases of “any more news to tell us?” went unanswered by Ferguson, a pro through and through.