The Seven Network had hoped to delay an announcement of Ian Ross’ end of year retirement, but news of Mark Ferguson’s signing to the network yesterday threw all the attention his way.
The Weekend Australian has revealed David Leckie reluctantly agreed this week to let his star anchor go after six years reading the Sydney bulletin.
Ross, 69, has kept Seven News on top in Sydney for almost five years and now hopes to spend more time with family at his home in Queensland. The word ‘retirement’ has long been associated with him since he was encouraged back to the news desk by Seven anyway.
Seven has worked hard to keep ‘Roscoe’ happy, including giving him a four night schedule instead of five.
In 2005, Leckie rewarded Ross with a $1 million pay packet for putting Seven News ahead of rival Nine for the first time, and every year since has increased his package to entice him to stay.
But while Chris Bath has similarly been expected to take his duties, now there is talk of dual presenters, with Mark Ferguson in a co-presenter chair. There is every likelihood that his arrival at Seven from October will mean Seven has an excess of presenters until Ian Ross’ contract ends in December. Look for a lengthy Ferguson holiday in between gigs.
Ferguson switching allegiances follows his demotion from Nine’s #1 Sydney Newsreader to its #2 in January. David Gyngell wanted him to stay but Ferguson was facing a pay cut from $700,000 to $500,000 a year.
One source commented to TV Tonight that, “He’s plainly had shit on his liver since all that happened in January and would have been talking to Meakin since then. Ironic, because Meakin didn’t have big wraps on him while at Nine. Funny game this.”