Nine CEO Hugh Marks has told media Nine walked away from Lisa Wilkinson over a $500,000 shortfall and because it could not secure digital rights for Nine platforms, due to conflicts with her other commercial dealings.
But he denied it was a gender pay parity issue.
“She has a number of commercial rights with other parties. Her arrangement with The Huffington Post restricts our ability to engage with her digitally … We are restricted from engaging with her also on social media,” he told News Corp.
“I hate the fact we have to compare her with Karl (Stefanovic) but with him we have all those rights. With Lisa we do not.”
“I went to an incredible amount of trouble to build that ($1.8 million) package for her. She wanted $2.3 million. It wasn’t a $200,000 shortfall to (Karl’s) $2 million magic number. It was $500,000.”
Nine continues to maintain Karl Stefanovic’s role encompasses other programming, although Wilkinson also contributes to Carols by Candlelight, plus political and telethon duties.
Whether the gender pay parity is accurate or not is increasingly a moot point: newspapers and media across the land have made it the narrative whether Nine likes it or not. Headlines like “Nine Boss Hits Out at Runaway Lisa” only add to a negative image. The audience will always side with the personality over the corporate network.
Meanwhile media continue to try second-guessing her replacement.
The Courier Mail and The Australian are backing Georgie Gardner but The Age is behind Sylvia Jeffreys -that’s despite the network bringing Deborah Knight to the desk yesterday following Wilkinson’s exit. Chris Bath is also a favourite. Even online betting sites have weighed into the guessing, with Jeffreys on the shortest odds.