Channel Nine chief executive Hugh Marks has come clean on the often murky dealings of the failed contract negotiations with Lisa Wilkinson that saw its breakfast show superstar spectacularly defect to the Ten Network on Monday.
In an interview published on 9News.com.au – which appears to be the broadcaster’s only formal comment – Marks revealed that the contractual negotiations broke down months ago, primarily over Wilkinson’s asking price rumoured to be $2.3 million a year which was $500,000 more than Nine was prepared to offer.
Marks has told other media that he would’ve had to lay off 10 producers to meet Wilkinson’s demands and added the money saved from her departure can now be invested back into young journalists.
It has been revealed, Wilkinson’s agent secretly negotiated her exit to Ten over a month ago.
The problem for Nine, it appears, was that Wilkinson would do her Today commitments and that’s it and, as Marks puts it: “Limited her value to the network.”
On the contrary, Karl Stefanovic not only hosts Today but also his own evening show This Time Next Year, as well as appearing on 60 Minutes and other senior editorial commitments.
Wilkinson is reportedly paid a six-figure sum to write for rival The Huffington Post which precluded her from contributing to any of Nine’s websites. According to the 9News article, when Wilkinson broke the story about fracturing her arm while on holiday in Europe last month, Nine chiefs were none to happy.
“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,” Marks said
“The reason we walked away from Lisa is because we are not able to secure those rights with her.
“It’s not just a pay thing. We want people to partner with us, who are invested and want to go on the journey with us.
“I have been a great supporter of women in our business in terms of salary equity and position, when we are discussing on-air talent we assess their contribution beyond just their gender, audience appeal, rights and contribution to the overall business – and not their own brand,” Marks said.