Nine bosses are reportedly set to return its prodigal son, Karl Stefanovic, to his Today home.
Stefanovic was unceremoniously dumped from the breakfast show last December and appears to have roamed Nine’s corridors ever since with little to do save for (the now defunct) This Time Next Year and occasional 60 Minutes duties.
But it appears everyone in Nine’s Willoughby boardroom is prepared to kiss and makeup – and hope viewers have short memories – with Stefanovic touted for a 2020 return.
Today’s post-Karl and Lisa line-up of George Gardner and Deborah Knight has proven a total fizzer with viewers from the onset; the show repeatedly thumped by arch-rival Sunrise in the ratings since debuting during the Australian Open in January.
Ever since his axing, Stefanovic has been linked to a number of new roles including a switch to rival Seven, a move to Macquarie Radio and a posting to Washington as Nine’s US correspondent.
But judging by reports on the front-page of today’s The Australian, the 45-year-old is set to be given his old job back on Today in a new-look 2020 line-up that will see him possibly co-host the show alongside 60 Minutes journo Allison Langdon.
Last week there’d even been media speculation that Nine was so desperate to revive Today’s fortunes it was considering one or both of the comic duo Hamish and Andy as possible host(s).
However, The Oz is reporting that Nine CEO Hugh Marks is willing to reinstall Stefanovic – to the role he’s publicly coveted – on the proviso he takes a significant pay cut.
According to the reports, Stefanovic will have to accept hundreds of thousands of dollars less than his present $2 million a year salary if he wants the breakfast chair back.
As reported on B&T yesterday, The Oz is also confirming Nine’s Sonia Kruger will move to rival Seven next year on a three-year, $1.3 million a year deal.
The move is yet to be confirmed by Seven – a spokesperson issuing B&T a terse “no comment” when we enquired yesterday – and, as yet, what Kruger’s role would be at the network remains unclear.
With Kruger on the move, that would allow Nine bosses to move Gardner and Knight into her roles on Today Extra or Weekend Today.
The Today debacle aside, Nine has rarely put a foot wrong in 2019. Its buyout of the Fairfax titles and Macquarie Media have been seamless while many of its TV offerings have proven to be massive hits – MAFS, Lego Masters and The Block all dominating this year’s ratings.