The Stefanovic family just can’t seem to avoid the headlines of late with news this morning that Nine has not renewed Peter Stefanovic’s contract.
The younger of the Stefanovic clan had been at the network for 15 years in a number of guises, most recently as host of its Weekend Today program.
According to media reports, Stefanovic’s removal was a combination of a lack of on-air chemistry, poor ratings and fallout from April’s now infamous ‘Ubergate’ scandal, where he and brother Karl were busted in the back of an Uber dishing dirt on Nine management and their on-air colleagues.
Peter’s departure will now only add to the uncertainty around Karl’s future at the network, as he’s apparently been on the nose with network chiefs for some time.
In a statement, Nine said Peter had left to “explore new opportunities”.
Interestingly, the 37-year-old had complained during the ‘Ubergate’ scandal that the network wasn’t giving him hard journalism roles and ideas he’d put forward had been ignored by his bosses.
In a statement, Peter said he had “an amazing time at Nine being a foreign correspondent, news reporter and covering some amazing stories for 60 Minutes” – notably not mentioning his latest gig on Weekend Today.
“I’ll miss my friends at Nine very much, it has been a huge privilege to work alongside so many great people,” he added.
Only last week, The Daily Telegraph speculated that Nine bosses were set to punt Stefanovic due to his lacklustre performance on Weekend Today, adding that South Australian TV identity Brenton Ragless was set to take his hosting role.
However, a Nine insider has told The Australian that ultimately it was the “Ubergate” affair that was his undoing.
The mole described Peter Stefanovic as a “decent fellow” and a “bloody good reporter”.
‘‘Everyone is in shock, but its Ubergate that’s done him in,” the unnamed source said. “Today has been spiralling out of control. And they bone people.”
Meanwhile, Karl’s future at the network now looks uncertain at best.
Nine management could indeed look for a complete clean-out of its on-air talent, with The Daily Mail reporting that Karl, Richard Wilkins and Peter’s wife, Silvia Jeffreys, all in the firing-line.
In September, Nine CEO Hugh Marks said that Karl’s job was safe for now, but said that everyone on the show – “especially Karl”– needed to lift their game.
Only last week, Marks appointed a new executive producer, who is expected to make changes to the Today line-up.
Amid plunging ratings and another kicking by rival Sunrise, the Today show is in desperate need of a revamp and to reassure nervous advertisers. Some new, younger blood could be just the tonic, not to mention the expense of Karl’s $3 million annual salary.
Meanwhile, entertainment reporter Peter Ford claimed Silvia Jeffreys will be replaced by Tracy Vo, who works as a presenter with Channel Nine’s Perth team.
Ford tweeted: “As I reported yesterday there is also a plan to also “redeploy” @SylviaJeffreys and @Tracy_Vo is favourite to move east.”
Even stalwart entertainment reporter Richard Wilkins’ future is up in the air.
Over the weekend, The Daily Telegraph reported that Nine management weren’t going to renew Wilkins’ contract beyond the end of the year. The 64-year-old has been with the network for over three decades.
To counter the claim, Nine issued a statement via the now Nine-owned Sydney Morning Herald that said: “Richard is a valued member of the Nine and Today family. He will remain with Today in 2019 and beyond.”