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When Lisa Wilkinson and Channel Nine announced via their respective Twitter accounts that the popular television co-host was indeed leaving the seat she warmed for ten years, the public were in shock. The abrupt departure aside, a large question mark over the network’s pay equality ethos loomed with rumours swirling Wilkinson quit because she wasn’t getting paid as much as co-host Karl Stefanovic.

Channel Nine’s chief executive Hugh Marks has today confirmed those rumours to be incorrect. He says Wilkinson was spreading herself too thin with rival commercial opportunities like being the editor-at-large of The Huffington Post and demanded $2.3 million despite Nine not having exclusive access to her on a digital platform.

“[Lisa] 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.”

“I went to an incredible amount of trouble to build a $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.”

Wilkinson will join Channel Ten’s award-winning news program The Project in a hosting role.

While Wilkinson herself is yet to personally confirm whether her decision to leave Nine had anything to do with matching her male co-host’s salary, it was her daughter’s Instagram caption that suggested it was. “Thank you, Mum, for paving the way for the next generation and every generation to come,” Billi FitzSimon’s posted. “You are a leader and an inspiration for so many tonight. I can’t wait to see you at the breakfast table tomorrow morning”.

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